Rooftop and basement pools and spas offer an element of escapism from big city living. Enabling buyers to increase the value and liveable area of their property without extending the square footage is a big turn on for many.
Thanks to engineering and technology advancements and an increasing customer demand, the UK’s rooftop and basement pool market is producing some of the most luxurious and contemporary pool designs.
“When you have less space to improve your property, going down is the most popular way to get a pool,” says Jamie Smith, managing director at London Swimming Pool Company (LSPC).
“We deal with the luxury market so our basement pool clients are high net worth individuals of all types, for example, investors in London properties and very successful entrepreneurs, sports people, creative and business people.”
Largely reserved for the high-end market, basement pools have become incredibly popular for homes where space is limited. So-called ‘iceberg homes’ are extensively renovated below ground level to the point where a large portion of the property is subterranean, like an iceberg below sea level. This creates extra living space for features such as wine cellars, cinemas, gyms and pools, and is particularly popular in London where property density is far greater than outside the capital and square footage comes at a premium price.
In the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea for example there were there were just 46 planning applications for basement developments in 2001, rising to 450 last year. But the growing trend has been met with some resistance. In January the borough become the first local authority in the country to introduce restrictions on controversial subterranean developments. Although basement extensions are still permitted in the borough, the new rules restrict how far they can stretch under a garden, limit them to a single storey in most cases and ban developments under listed buildings altogether.
Jamie continues: “Despite our company name we do have clients outside central and greater London, yet we have only built a handful of basement pools for clients outside London. People living outside the capital have far more space to build pools in gardens and outbuildings near the house. The basement pool seems mainly to be the preserve of London homes.”
One of LSPC’s recent basement pools was designed and built to enable two energetic teenage boys to indulge their passion to swim full lengths every day, whilst also creating a vibrant space for family parties and entertainment. A small external patio allows an infusion of natural light to stream into the pool hall, coalescing with the lighting system installed in the pool to create a spectacular effect. The main contractor, Oak Build London, undertook the complex ground works and construction, while LSPC waterproofed the pool shell and completed installation of the energy efficient plant room, including the filters and air handling system, as well as the pool lighting. A high specification Ocea pool cover is housed in a hidden pit and floats out across the pool via ‘letter box’ slot. The air handling system, which controls the temperature in the pool hall, is linked to the pool cover so that the heating sets back when the cover is closed, thus conserving energy.
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