Property Price Potential

A look at what to consider when buying-to-let in London 2014

 Why should I invest in property in London?

With low savings rates and the uncertain stock market the buy-to-let market in London has become an attractive prospect for those looking to invest their money. With rising rents and improvement in mortgage deals, buyers are being tempted once more but where is the best place to buy-to-let and what should investors consider? Below we look at the city’s investment potential for the forthcoming years.

Currently investment in London is global, Foxtons predict that the capital value of the buy-to-let property in the centre of London will see growth of around 25% by 2017, whilst rents will simultaneously rise, hence the substantial worldwide interest in the capital. In the second half of 2013, BM Solutions (part of Lloyds Banking Group and one of the UK’s biggest buy-to-let lenders) recorded the average rental per month in London at £1,417, in contrast to £701 in the rest of the UK, this was a considerable increase of 10% on rental yields in comparison to the second half of 2012. Buy-to-let purchases grew across the whole country by 28% in the latter part of 2013, and property consultants CBRE predict house prices in London are set to increase by 35% over the next five years, showing the investment trend is both wise and on the rise.

Is regeneration taking place within the City?

There are currently over 2,000 housing schemes under construction or in the later planning stages in London, coupled with new transport links that are expected to provide a boost in employment, it means there will be a lot of fresh opportunities to invest. But where are these improving neighbourhoods? The City is affected by micro-markets, factors such as good or outstanding schools can impact property prices significantly or rental demand dramatically in an area. Districts that will benefit from regeneration in areas such as the arts will also see a higher demand for living space, and it is worth noting areas that are yet to realise their property price potential- those that are still awaiting crucial development, which may in turn see the value of their properties rocket as well as their rental value.

‘Homes and Property’ suggest that six inner London boroughs undergoing regeneration are worthy of investment; these are Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Wandsworth, half of the 278,000 new homes, which are planned to be built in London over the next ten-years will be built in these areas.

The Major’s Homes for London strategy proposes 10 new housing zones, although the city is currently in the middle of a building boom the city is still facing a housing shortage with London’s population set to hit 9 million people by 2020. Boris Johnson’s ‘Homes for London’ strategy aims to speed up the new builds. The strategy seeks to use all available space in the city to provide much needed housing. Under the strategy ten designated ‘housing zones’ are set to be created, within these given zones planning criteria will be relaxed, with additional tax breaks to accelerate the building process allowed.

It is predicted price surges over the following three years will also be seen in what Savills refer to as “the outer prime market”, as well as the areas mentioned above, places such as Vauxhall, King’s Cross, White City, Farringdon, South Bank, Wapping, Earl’s Court, Elephant and Castle, and Clapham Old Town are all set to be wise investment moves. With improvement of infrastructure and the pull of the shorter commute these areas are set to see an increase in demand.

What should I look for when buying-to-let?

According to Ludlow Thompson smaller flats often yield higher returns than larger ones, especially in areas with high tenant demand, such as students. Rental family houses tend to do less well so it may be better avoided as an option for first-time investors in the city. When buying-to-let it is important to be aware of the low mortgage rates, if interest rates rise you need to be aware that your rental income will weather the storm. Often wise investment is made in areas that will not ‘go out of fashion’, when buying-to-let it is important to ask the following questions:

-Is there a predicted rise in property prices expected in the area over the next few years?

-Are the properties affordable at the moment?

-Are there potential future investment opportunities in the area?

If the answer is affirmative for all three it may be just the area to consider a buy-to-let in they city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Innovative Staircases

Stairs and ladders have been around since prehistoric times arguably they are one of the oldest builds in architectural history, first emerging as a solution to a problem, their function to establish a connection between two spaces on different levels. These day’s staircases are a long way from merely functional, these innovative staircases or alternatives below are interactive, activity based and in some cases architecturally striking, proving that the staircase is no longer just a means to an end.

The Staircase Slide

Arguably the most enjoyable way to travel from upstairs down, these staircase slides are sure to keep not only the children entertained.

Alex Michaelis Slide side-by-side

London architect Alex Michaelis designed this staircase with a slide from wood, which is a pure fusion of functionality and fun.

Korean architecture firm ‘Moon Hoon’ were hired to design this home modern family home in Korean, central to the home’s design is the staircase that is designed to accommodate a variety of children’s activities, alongside the usual staircase for adults the children they have built in book cases on each step and a slide adjoining, so they can play and read all at the same time.

David Hotson’s slide

This designer bypassed steps entirely when it came to travelling downstairs in his Manhattan apartment. The tubular slide is made from steel shoots and travels through a whole four storeys in this penthouse apartment in New York. Situated in Lower Manhattan, the slide starts at the top of the penthouse apartment in the attic room, travellers climb into a circular hole before plummenting through the polished stainless steel slide, they can choose to exit at the next floor where the slide briefly stops or they can continue downwards through the next three floors where they arrive in the apartment living room.

The Staircase Hammock

When architects in Oporto, Portugal needed to utilise space in a two-floor apartment they included a large hammock set over the staircase in their design. Architects OODA designed the staircase hammock so it could be accessed from the second floor, the hammock over looks the balcony window so you can enjoy the view whilst you lie back and relax, although it maybe not for the fearful of heights. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Staircase Aquarium

This aquarium staircase was designed by Diapo’s designers, the stairs wrap around the 4m diameter by 15 meter high aquarium, the aquarium staircase concept was part of a project for UK firm ‘Julian Hunter Architects’. The helical glass staircase allows you to enjoy the aquarium as you ascend or descend the stairs. The staircase aquarium was made using 40mm thick toughened laminated glass for a private client near to the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland.

 

 

 

 

The Wine Storage Staircase

Many homes utilise a staircase for storage or as a work area but why not make the most of that empty space and install an attractive wine rack for your bottles as opposed to the traditional cellar. 


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

Draw inspiration from these famous London Department store fronts this Christmas and transfer that festive feeling into your property this December. With under three weeks until the big day it’s time to deck the halls, but rather than the traditional boughs of holly, why not try some of these alternative ideas that are adding a little touch of magic to London’s streets over Christmas.

Fortnum and Mason

181, Piccadilly, St James, London. W1A 1ER

Known for its old, grand, traditional, royal-esque Christmas displays, the unveiling of Fortnum and Mason’s Christmas windows is an event in itself. This years theme is ‘Where Dreams Come True’, the nostalgic imagery displayed along its shop frontage conjures up simplistic, childhood thoughts of the festive period- among the window displays are large Christmas trees, Carol singers, sleighs, cherubs, ice skaters, red, white and gold baubles with sparkling white lights. The windows are described by the famous store as “a snapshot of everyone’s favourite moment”. With a 1950’s air the retro details, simplicity, coal fires, roaring stoves and mothers dressed in aprons, makes you remember Christmas’ from childhoods past.

Harrods

87-135 Brompton Road, Kingsbridge, London. SW3 1RT

Harrods Christmas department store opens 158 days before the day itself and their Santa’s Grotto is legendary, inside the store you’ll find plenty of extravagant gifts to decorate your home, including a life sized Father Christmas for £3,999. This year Harrods Christmas window took over 500 hours to build, inspired by the quaint-essential British steam train, each carriage of the magical Harrods express displays the stores wares. Among the showcase is a Ralph and Russo Swarovski-covered dress costing £80,000. Brimming with glamorous opulence, the window features 60 Christmas trees, hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights, you can purchase the baubles featured in the festive window display for £3.95 in store, thus taking a little of Harrods magic into your home.

Selfridges

400 Oxford Street, Marylebone, London. W1U 1AB

With over 120 different advent calendars for sale before December began, 2,000 Union Jack baubles, life-sized polar bears (priced at £1,599), red telephone boxes and Santa’s of realistic proportions Selfridges doesn’t scrimp when it comes to the season of giving. The ‘Lost London’ fantasy cityscape inside Selfridges this year is made entirely from gingerbread, a tribute to architecture lost to history or never built, the gingerbread buildings include Old London Bridge, Euston Arch, as well as the-never-built Glass Tower Bridge. The scene involves snowmen playing and a massive snow globe, the gingerbread buildings are created next to the River Thames, which is created with 80 litres of flowing syrup. The ‘Wish List’ theme includes oversized Christmas gifts in the other windows, with giant shoes, perfume bottles, handbags, headphones and playdoh.

 Liberty of London

Regent Street, Soho, London. W1B 5AH

Christmas begins in September in Liberty’s and the moment you walk through the door you are dazzled by the glittering walkway of sparkling lights that are draped from the ceilings. The store is filled with divine Christmas crackers, crafts and decorations, if not a little pricey but many are keepsakes for the years that follow. This years theme for Liberty’s Christmas displays is based upon ‘an exploding cracker’, with plenty of shine, shimmer and sparkle, lighting is central to the theme, the store has tried to create the burst of excitement, the spark that is ignited in all of us during the festive period. Above the stores main entrance you’ll find a giant cracker bursting opening, inside the store you’ll find all its beautiful offerings this season.

John Lewis

278-306 Oxford Street, Marylebone, London. W1A 1EX

With tailor-made Christmas gift categories in store, John Lewis has made it easier than ever to find the perfect gift for your loved ones this year. Known for its classic sophiscation John Lewis’ has opted for an animal themed winter wonderland window collection this year, with over 188 animals created using over 7,000 products. There are deer made from dyson hoovers, a bear made using furniture, a turkey made entirely from towels and penguins created using kettles. The innovative display is full of charm and fun and is the perfect accompaniment to support the delightful ‘Hare and the Bear’ television advert.

Harvey Nicholas

109-125 Knightsbridge, London. SW1X 7RJ

For a refined shopping experience and even a bit of celebrity spotting Harvey Nicholas is the department store to head to in the city, with excellent Christmas hampers brimming with the best wine, champagne and Christmas puddings from across the globe, this years festive window combines fashion and fantasy. With angelic mannequins adorned in the stores top fashion pieces, there is a modern stained glass window with snowflakes and stars galore.

 

Unusual Christmas Retreats

Want to escape from it all this December but fancy somewhere a little quirky, away from everyday life? Why not take a Christmas holiday in one of the following…

The Gingerbread House 

Based in Sussex, the Meadow Keeper’s Cottage is a delightful country cottage with a difference. The crooked cottage was built by hand using locally sourced wood, described as a ‘higgledy piggledy cottage on wheels” it can accommodate 2 adults and 2 children, its amenities include a dining table, indoor cooker and sink, a wardrobe and a wood burner. Outside there is a fire pit to keep warm during chilly nights and an outdoor dining area. Located between two wildflower meadows it is the perfect place to cosy up this festive season. From £100 a night.

http://www.canopyandstars.co.uk/britain/england/sussex/swallowtail-hill/meadow-keeper-s-cottage

 

The Majestic Bus

Situated in a flowered garden in Hay-on-Way this converted panoramic bus enjoys breathtaking views over the Herefordshire countryside. The vintage bus accommodates 4 people, the bus conversion includes a hand-crafted kitchen/dining area with oak worktops. The bus is fitted with a double bed, wood-burning stove and a sofa. There is an outside decked area where you can have a roaring fire, there is a purpose built bath house located a few metres away from the bus. From £105 per night.

www.majesticbus.co.uk

Belle Tout Lighthouse

This lighthouse dating back to 1832 is a B&B with a difference. If blustery walks on sweeping cliff paths is your thing, a stay at Belle Tout Lighthouse on Beachy Head is ideal. The lighthouse boasts 360 degree views of the English channel. Each room is themed, including ‘The Keepers Loft’ and ‘The Captains Cabin’ amongst the six bedrooms. There is a minimum of a 2 night stay and prices begin at £145 per night for two people.

www.belletout.co.uk

Auberge 4 Aux Vents

For a whimsical vacation head to Switzerland this Christmas, a stay at the Auberge 4 Aux Vents is to experience a boutique hotel with a difference. Decorated with unusual quirky additions, there are eight rooms, some with bottled dreams or garden gnomes for company, or the piece de resistance- a roll out bath tub on tracks so you can bathe on the balcony beneath the stars. A room for two begins at €100 per night.

www.aux4vents.ch/

 

Haunting Halloween

When witches go riding,
 and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers,
‘tis near Halloween. ~Author Unknown 

As British Summer Time ended over the weekend and the capital as well as the rest of the country was hit by St Jude’s storm, the bright, light days we’ve enjoyed over the past few months have quickly become a distant memory. But with winter comes festivities of other sorts including Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night to look forward to in the city over the coming week. But where do these traditions originate? And what is there to do in London to make the most of them? We’ve taken a look at the origins of Halloween and where to make the most of the Witching Hour this Thursday.

Halloween is thought to have developed around the Gaelic festival of Samhain, when the light of the year becomes darkness. Pagans believed that during this time of the year; where fields were harvested and livestock killed ready for winter- that the worlds of the living and dead became blurred, allowing spirits to pass through the supernatural world into the present. The tradition of wearing spooky outfits may have derived from this idea- dressing up is thought to have scared ghosts away.

Halloween is a shorten version of All Hallows’ Even, All Hallows is an old term for All Saints’ Day, tradition has it that gifts were given to the poor on All Saints Day- beggars would pray for the souls of the dead for food- disguising as a ghoul or ghost was thought to help fool evil spirits who appeared during these prayers- it is unclear whether this practice transcended trick or treating but this is where it is thought to have derived from.

There are an array of events in the city over Halloween this Thursday where you can celebrate the traditions and scare yourselves silly, from the spooky to the extremely gory.

London Dungeon

Tuesday 29th October to Sunday November 3rd, sees 18 spooky set ups for some terrifying performances, including Jack the Ripper and The Pumpkineer, prices start from £21.95 per adult but you will need to book in advance. For one night only, the Dungeon will be open on Friday November 1st until 10pm for a night of spooky scares, this night is sure to frighten even the bravest. You’ll be transported back to London’s streets; littered with rats, corpses, vomit and the threat of the Plague. Sweeney Todd, Guy Fawkes, Jack the Ripper and Henry VIII will all star as you get lost in the Victorian sewers or board a virtual boat trip down the Thames to the destination of an execution. The Dungeon After Dark costs £22 per adult and showings are at 19:15/19:30/19:45 pm.

London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB

 

Witch Academy

London Eye is turned into a witches hovel for this spooky story- the High Witch Priscilla and the ghastly Grimly Grim both star. The ride costs £19.20 for adults and £12.30 for children aged 4-15, a family ticket for two adults and two children can be purchased for £63. Perfect to get in the mood whilst you enjoy views across the city. From Tuesday 29th October to Saturday 2nd November.

EDF Energy London Eye, Jubilee Gardens, SE1 7PB

 

Surgical Horrors

A feast of gory clips and extracts taken from horror films and literature. The talk by Professor Ian Conrich and Justin D Edwards examines our morbid curiousity with blood and gore in fiction, including a look at Frankenstein and many more. From £6.20 per adults, the show starts at 6pm on the 31st including refreshments.

Surgical Horrors, Old Operating Theatre Museum, 9a St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY 

Schemes to solve the housing shortage

 

As housing prices in the city continue to soar and the cost of renting increases, many face the predicament of being both unable to buy and rent, so what is the solution?  A number of schemes across the country are proposing new initiatives that will bridge the gap between the increasing population and not enough houses being built to accommodate such numbers, whilst tackling the issue of expense.

Companies and architects are hoping to develop the idea of compact housing, London developer ‘Pocket Living’ designs sell for roughly 20% below the current market value in the capital and are available to purchase across Lambeth, Camden, Hammersmith and Ealing in Spring 2014. Whilst architectural firm Levitt Bernstein have proposed a scheme known as ‘Pop-up HAWSE.’ The firm have put forward plans to help solve the city’s housing shortage, namely by converting small garages in Dalston into small homes, with tenants paying a mere £11 a week to rent them. The proposals, as pictured below, recently won The Building Trusts housing design competition for encouraging sustainable architecture in areas of deprivation.

Compact housing has been taken to another level in North-east London where shipping containers originating from China have been turned into makeshift homes. The mypads cost £20,000 each and are available to rent for £75 a week, they come complete with air conditioning, flat-screen TV’s and en-suite bathrooms.

Micro-flats that are less than 200 square foot, in some instances, also seem to be growing in popularity alongside the ‘flat pack’ home. Flat pack houses are generally built in factories before being transferred to a plot of land; of late councils have dodged the problem of expensive land acquisition for such schemes by leasing land to get around the problem.

In Tottenham, work has just began to turn disused factories into hundreds of new homes, suggesting that the answer may lie in developing disused buildings across the city. The once industrial warehouses will now be developed into 260 houses and flats. Independent charity ‘Empty Houses,’ are campaigning to develop vacant houses and flats across London, with the hope to bring them back into use. A look at the website derelictlondon.com sees properties in Dulwich, Westminster and Elephant and Castle, among the London boroughs with numerous empty properties, which have fallen into disrepair and sit unoccupied.

But even if regeneration takes place it may not solve the financial gap between people’s salaries and the opportunity of ownership in the Capital. This week in Liverpool saw the council try to tackle just that with the ‘House for a pound’ scheme, in a bid to regenerate certain areas of the city, the council is hoping to bring 179 houses back to a reasonable living standard. The scheme that saw local taxi driver, Jayalal Madde, receive his keys this week in exchange for a pound requires applicants to live and work in Liverpool, be first time buyers and employed. In turn they are required to front the money to transform their houses, which is thought to cost each buyer around £35,000, and live there for at least five years. So far there have been over a thousand applicants with ten people already successful in acquiring homes for a pound under the scheme.

Liverpool is not the first city to trial such an initiative, with Stoke-on-Trent City Council launching an application earlier in the year to sell 35 rundown houses for a pound each. With numerous properties in the capital empty and in need of regeneration, helping those who are employed in the city and hoping to get on the property market develop deprived areas through affordable investment may be one of the solutions.

Designer Property of the Late Versace up for Auction

Many of us dream of living like the rich and famous but what if you were able to live where they once did, with fabulous designer labels and on-trend furnishings at your finger tips- now one lucky buyer could, in the home of one of the fashion worlds most famous abodes, that of the late Gianni Versace.

Gianni Versace’s mansion in Florida is currently up for auction after failing to sell in the past year. The fashion designer’s home, who was tragically shot dead by serial killer Andrew Cunanan in 1997 on his front steps, still bears all the hallmarks of his presence there. Versace logos and gold tilled pools, as well as golden medusa heads welcome you at the gates. The auction for the former designers home will take place on September 17th and the minimum bid is currently set at $25 million.

The property hasn’t been owed by the Versace family since 2000, three years after his death when they first sold it, but the current owners are still hoping to cash in on Versace’s legacy.

To even view the premises those buyers who are interested are required to sign a confidentiality agreement alongside proof of sufficient financial wealth to seal the deal. Versace once said, “Comfort is very important to me. I think people live better in big houses.”  And this it is; big, among its features the house boasts a swimming pool lined with gold tiles, views of the ocean, murals by Versace himself, gold bathroom features and a rooftop observatory. The building is considered by many as a Miami landmark and many tourists flock to South Beach to have photos taken at the entrance. The asking price prior to auction currently stands at $75 million.

Versace’s old home is not the only house with famous fashion ties in Miami Beach, this modern construction pictured below was recently commissioned by Luca Formilli Fendi, of the fashion giant Fendi, and is located on one of the artificial Venetian Islands in Biscayne Bay, with breathtaking views of Miami Beach and floor to glass ceiling glass walls it is a designers haven.

Summer in the City

Charles Bowden once said “Summertime is always the best of what might be” and as the temperatures hopefully rise, the nights remain long and peoples mood’s lift it is the ideal time to make the most of the outdoors in the city and explore what London has on offer this season.

The world famous Wimbledon Tennis Championships is currently in full swing,  having begun on Monday June 24th and not finishing until this Sunday July 7th. Held at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, if you are prepared to queue you may well catch a glimpse of the UK favourite Andy Murray, who many hope will put Britain out of 74 years of misery this summer and bring the tournaments trophy home. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to get tickets on one of the courts, why not enjoy some strawberries and cream and soak up the atmosphere from the comfort of your home. (2013 Wimbledon Championships, The All England Tennis Club, Church Road, London, SW19 5AE)

 

Where better to while away the hours than in one of London’s beautiful parks, there is an array of events over the coming months including Barclaycard British Summer Time at Hyde Park, which sees one of London’s most famous parks playing host to a number of exciting events including performances by world famous acts such as Elton John, Bon Jovi and The Rolling Stones. Barclaycard British Summer Time runs from 28th June to 13th July, during the weekdays there will be the opportunity to enjoy films, literature, music, sports and a family day. Regents Park Open Air Theatre is in its 81st year this summer, you can see Jane Austen’s classic ‘Pride and Prejudice’ that began showing on June 20th and finishes on July 20th. If you would rather just bask in the sunshine you can hire a deckchair in one of the city’s Royal Parks and simply watch the world go by.

(Barclaycard British Summer Time, Hyde Park, North East corner, W2 2UH)

(Regents Park Open Air Theatre, Inner Circle, Westminster, NW1 4NU)

Up until October you can take to the water and Hire a Boat on the Serperntine, each boat takes up to six people so you can make a day of it with friends. If getting wet takes your fancy why not have a dip at any one of London’s outdoor pools; there are three outdoor pools open to ladies, men and mixed groups at Hampstead Heath, children aged eight to fifteen-years-old are welcome if accompanied by an adult, originally these pools were dammed off clay pits but are now enjoyed by plenty of swimmers. If you fancy a spot of lunch after your swim, head to Brockwell Lido, this 50 metre pool is the perfect setting if you want to replenish your hunger after a rigorous workout, the cafe situated in the Grade II building overlooking the lido was voted the ‘Best Park Café’ in 2011 by London’s Time Out’s Eating and Drinking Guide.

(The Serpentine, Serpintine Road, Hyde Park, London W2 2UH)

(Hampstead Heath Pond, Staff Yard, Highgate Road, London, NW5 1QR)

(Brockwell Lido, Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, London, SE24 0PA)

Make the most of the drawn out evenings and watch the sunset overlooking London’s Big Ben, whilst enjoying a delicious cocktail in one of London’s Rooftop Bars, head to Radio Rooftop Bar where you can sip on your drink ‘Sex and the City’ style whilst lounging on one of the big sofas under the space heaters. Music is in no short supply as there is a DJ to entertain as the day draws to an end. If food is more your thing, make the most of Alfresco Dining without spending hours turning meat on the BBQ, head to The Garden Grill at Bloomsbury’s ‘The Montague’, where the chef sees to the cooking whilst you sit back and enjoy it straight from the grill.

(Radio Rooftop Bar, 336-337, Strand, London, WC2R 0EZ)

(The Garden Grill, The Montague on the Gardens, 15 Montague Street, London, WC1B 5BJ)

 

Sadly, as Shakespeare wrote “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date,” but whilst the Autumn months remain in the distant future, you’ve still got plenty of time to make the most of what the city has to offer. 

The Rise of the Iceberg House

As more and more people are driven by the need for space, particularly in cramped inner-city London, extensions and the construction industry are becoming increasingly innovative, people are no longer building up and out but rather down, creating unseen living areas below their houses.

Iceberg houses extend up to three or four floors deep underground, where anything from cinemas, gyms, wine cellars, games rooms and swimming pools are installed. The trend to extend downwards began in the city, namely seeing homes in Hampstead, Kensington and Chelsea building below but it looks set to become common place further a field in the country.

For example in Sandbank, Poole, it is estimated that half of all of the large detached homes in the area have had basement extensions, Kingswood in Surrey is also another area that is embracing basement extensions. Sarah Beeny, Property Ladder’s presenter has even commented that “everyone has gone basement mad.”

However the desire to build extensions underground is facing increasing opposition, as more residents dispute planning applications for such builds for fear of subsidence, the risk of flooding during the building process and the disruption caused by rubble and mud being carted away for months on end due to the extent of the evacuation. Due to the scale of the work undertaken for a basement extension, there are a large number of construction vehicles involved, which residents living on small country roads say is a logistical nightmare.

And it is not just locals complaining, many famous faces are objecting plans for the so-called Iceberg houses. Among residents in Hampstead Garden suburb who complained about the construction of an underground wine cellar, swimming pool and games room was television personality Richard Madeley, although they were unsuccessful in preventing the build going ahead.

In Notting Hill there was objection from another famous face, in the form of Ruby Wax, who alongside Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel, won their legal battle to prevent a city financier building a large underground extension under what is a public road.

These are not the only cases, currently plans to build an underground basement 3.75 metres deep under a 3.6 million three-storey Victorian house are being fiercely fought in Hampstead. However, more often than not these plans go through. In areas of ‘Natural Outstanding Beauty’, they are seen by some as a way to get around the restrictive planning rules in place. And in Kensington and Chelsea there have been 800 planning applications in the last five years alone, with the majority receiving approval.

The London Basement Company believes iceberg houses are on the rise, Marketing Manager Maggie Smith reports fifteen to twenty projects of this kind on the go at any given time, with the demand for such extensions increasing. Basement extensions are thought to increase the value of houses by 15% to 20% so it is obvious to see why they are growing in popularity. Estate agent Jon Hunt (Founder of Foxton’s) is among those following the trend, he dug a three-storey basement extension housing a squash court and a Ferrari museum.

Plans for an underground extension in Cheshire is the perfect example of how innovative underground extensions are becoming. This proposed subterranean home has two-storeys, the underground home will be set amongst a 0.3 acre garden, where the driveway ends you will be met by a sky dome, which essentially will provide the natural light for the home.

On the first floor you’ll find a cloakroom, lounge, dining room, kitchen, utility and laundry room with a Master bedroom housing a large en-suite, and possibly the best feature of the underground mansion- a slide to the swimming pool situated on the lower level. The lower floor has two more bedroom suites, a Jacuzzi, gym, a bar, a changing area with showers, a garage, a plant room and of course the swimming pool.

Winners of the World Architecture Festival 2012

The World Architecture Festival entered its fifth year this October in Singapore, a celebration of architects, architectural achievements and professionals in the area, 2012 saw nearly three hundred entries from all corners of the world. Entries fell into three categories; completed buildings, landscape and future projects. Below are ten winners from this years awards including the winner of the World Architecture Building of the year.

1.The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne

The Hospital in Melbourne won an award in the health category, the Royal Children’s Hospital designed by Billard Leece Partnership and Bates Smart was inspired by the nearby surrounding park. The six storey atrium inspired building contains green spaces including an aquarium, all the rooms in the wards also provide views over the courtyard and gardens. The judges praised the design for “successfully overcoming the stigmas often attached to hospitals.”

2.Tokyo Tsutaya Bookstore

Designed by Klein Dytham Architecture the judges commended the bookstore stating it “proposes a new direction combining retail with social experiences, and integrating online retail with a tactile, physical experience.” The use of the brand logo creates an iconic building without heavily relying on signage, the lattice effect of the letter ‘T’ reflects the logo of the entertainment company Tsutaya subtly but with effect leading the firm to a win for the Best Shopping Centre.

 

3.Shearers Quarters, North Bruny Island, Tasmania

Set on a working sheep farm and designed by John Wardle Architects the property won the award for the best Villa, with its galvanised iron exterior and timber interior the simplicity and use of materials to sensitively interact with the environment was noted. The villa is used by farm workers and visitors.

 

 

4. Bodrum International Airport Terminal

Tabanlioglu Architects managed to lead passengers clearly through the terminal with their accessible designed airport, winning the best building in the Transport Category. The judges noting that the “complexity of the airport brief is resolved with openness and clarity.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Binh Duong School, Vietnam

The building won the award for Best School, the design was undertaken by architects Vo Trong Nghia, the caged balconies allow open air access around the building whilst protecting pupils from adverse weather conditions in the area.

 

 

6. London Art and Design College, Central Saint Martins

Closer to home, the capital won the award in the Higher education and Research Category. Designed by Stanton Williams, the project was commended for “showcasing a sensitive relationship between old buildings and new volumes.”

 

 

7. Apartments in Montenegro

Designed by Indian firm Sanjay Puri Architects this stack of apartments was inspired by the nearby old town rooftop patterns, the proposed design includes two commercial floors with nine floors of apartments above.

 

 

 

8. Liyuan Library, Beijing, China

Clad in firewood with low level shelves and integral seating the library blends seamlessly into its environment, the locally sourced wooden sticks provide the exterior for the building and the level changes throughout the interior of the library provide innovative spaces for visitors to read. The library was designed by Chinese architects Li Xiaodong.

 

 

9. Victoria Tower, Kista, Sweden

Standing tall in Stockholm this iconic building won the award in the Leisure/Hotel Category. Clad entirely in coloured glass it stands out as a colourful prism of light in the city. The architect responsible for the hotel that doubles up as a office and conference venue is Wingardh Arkikektkontor AB, there is also a ground floor restaurant in the building.

10. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

The World Building Winner was Gardens by the Bay, the brainchild of Grant Associates and Wilkinson Eyre Architects. A substantial tropical garden dominated by tree shaped towers and large greenhouses in the shape of shells with a 30 metre man-made waterfall, Gardens by the Bay is the largest project of its kind in the world, with Singapore hoping the gardens will put the area on the map for horticulture and gardening. The design team behind the world class design are in fact British and based in Bath, the judges commended the architecture as “awe inspiring in its scale and form.”

 

 

Projects from all over the world were short-listed for the World Building 2012 title, with an influx of entries from countries in Asia this year, but the UK did not fare badly, below are note worthy buildings in England, Scotland and Wales that were also nominated for the award.

  • Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama by BFLS
  • The Hive by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
  • Soundforms, London
  • Manchester Metropolitan University, Business School and Student Hub
  • Roch Castle Retreat, UK by Aedas Ltd
  • Dagenham Park Church of England School by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
  • South Glasgow Hospital by Nightingale Associates for Future projects.