“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Winston Churchill

I was reading the Economist (it gets passed around at work), and with the Olympics only days away they ran a special report on London.  One of the articles was about how expensive housing is in London, and they used the term “Iceberg home” – it refers to houses in London, where because land is in such short supply and so expensive, homeowners are digging out their basements (if that’s what you can call them).  One such basement boasts a swimming pool, gym and cinema.  These ‘Dig-outs’ are no longer restricted to a single storey: apparently below another house lies a four-car garage — and beneath that lies a swimming pool.

The photo above is from a house we saw being built on an episode (series 11, episode 7) of Grand Designs.   I think it’s more famous for it’s disco floor than the fact that much of it’s 232 m2 is underground on a tiny scrap of land carved out of someone’s back garden at the end of a mews. The plot is right next to a mainline railway, hemmed in on all sides by neighbours and trees and it sits on top of an old riverbed.  You can see more in this Grand Designs pdf.  Some interesting numbers – the site for this house cost £360,000, digging and waterproofing cost £350,000.  The other number that caught my eye – they spent £42,00o on lighting (the disco floor cost £6,000).


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