Basements are expensive to dig out and can prove dark, but Greg Toon finds a light, bright solution
Clever ways to get light into a basement
Basements cost about double the equivalent of above-ground building works, so getting them right is important. Life coach Elaine Gerrard, 64, from Camden, London, is keen to add two extra bedrooms – one possibly with an ensuite shower – plus a bathroom, laundry room and storage room beneath her 1850s coach house. Initially, Elaine wants to use one of the rooms as a consulting room cum office. In the longer term, it will give her extra space for when her grandchildren come to stay.
Elaine’s property has a paved front area used for off-street parking and, at the rear, there’s a small garden. Given the urban location, the front driveway and rear garden areas are precious.
Conventional wisdom would be to put in small lightwells so she wouldn’t lose too much external space, but the downside is that the basement rooms would be dark, with no views, and lacking in character.
My design allows for a generous amount of daylight to flow into the downstairs rooms, yet won’t compromise the driveway or garden. The key to this option is to re-imagine the garden. There’s no need for it to be on one level – Elaine can have pretty much the same amount of outside space as she does now, but staggered over three levels, with part of the garden on a landing next to the steps down to the basement.
By taking this more drastic approach with the garden, floor-to-ceiling windows leading to a separate terrace can be installed in the basement’s main bedroom/office. As the room is south-facing, it will be flooded with daylight and
Greg’s innovative design for the transformed house still brings in lots of day light, even to the lowest level
Greg Toon Architect and founder of architectural practice Potential etc…