Alderley Edge, Cheshire UK
Semi-subterranean ‘superyacht’ home
This was an especially exciting project to become involved with which many remark that it appears to look like a superyacht has merged into the hillside. There was no existing building and the site is very long and narrow, only being 15 metres wide from boundary to boundary. This created significant architectural and design challenges.
The complexity of the project was heightened by the fact that the planners were unwilling to accept anything but the minimal visual impact on the landscape. Thus developed the idea to work on an “iceberg architecture” concept – building down instead of up.
We needed to design the full internal specification of every element within the shell, including the fabulous aspects to the upper living areas whilst focusing specifically on creating an exceptional entertainment and leisure area.
From a design point of view, space planning had to be at its most creative, ensuring a natural flow through the property despite the constraints of the plot.
As the majority of the house was to be subterranean, it was also vital to maximise light within the house with as much natural light as possible, whilst complementing and supporting that with strategically placed artificial lighting.
Details & Specific Points of Interest
We became involved in this project at the early stages of concept development and worked closely with B2 Architecture (formerly Trinity Architecture). The initial drawings promised an immensely exciting space but a key part of the brief was to provide a sensational leisure and entertainment area and this was proving challenging. The leisure area is situated on the lowest level of the build but, due to limitations on space, access to this area was from outside via a glazed tunnel alongside the garden. With our extensive knowledge of space planning we were able to re-work the space to create a seamless flow through the living areas and into the leisure facilities.
The glazed entrance hall is the only part of the house that is visible from street level. The space contains a staircase which descends through four levels, artfully drawing light down through the house. The hall houses a magnificent bespoke feature drop pendant chandelier which drops through all four floors, ensuring that there is a light source illuminating the house come day or night. To maximise the light the walls of the staircase are clad with backlit composite stone and bronze trim.
The next floor down houses the main living spaces. The aim was to create as much light and visual impact as possible as one descends into the house. Surrounding the stairs we wrapped feature walls of backlit white alabaster with antique bronze inlay. With light flooding down from ground level and the backlit wall, a sense of space and light is cultivated throughout the first level. The main living area is open plan with the kitchen featuring metallic bronze cabinetry, off white stone worktops and a full height pietra grey polished marble splash back.
The kitchen flows into the dining zone whilst two steps lead down into the drawing room area. Between the dining and living areas we positioned a floating chimney breast in back lit semi-precious stones with a recessed television to each side and ribbon gas fire.
Lighting is key in every scheme but never more so than in this one where all the living space falls below ground level. Ever mindful of maximising natural light, we also took great care to complement it with the intelligent use of lighting. For example, the dining space is designed with a feature pendant and picture wall lights, thus creating an atmospheric space perfect for entertaining.
From the dining space the eye is naturally drawn to the lower tier drawing room where light floods through the full width sliding glazed door which leads onto a terrace. Inset into the terrace is a large skylight which allows light to flood into the floor below.
Set apart from the rest of the living space on this floor is the acoustically protected media room. This room delivers a very different feel to the rest of the floor. It is designed to be a softer, more intimate and relaxing environment.
Along one wall high gloss timber frames surround panels upholstered in faux leather with a central piece of feature artwork.
The facing wall plays host to floor to ceiling handleless grey timber cabinetry with a recessed ribbon fire set into a stone hearth detail.
The next level down houses the bedrooms. The question of natural light became even more pertinent on this level – ostensibly the only natural light would come from the sliding glazed doors in the master suite. However, directly below the terrace skylight outside the drawing room, an internal courtyard was strategically placed.
The glazed walls of the courtyard allow natural light into the bedrooms on either side of it and into the connecting corridor, whilst the dramatic polished black granite water feature in the courtyard creates a point of visual interest.
Ingenious Bar / Changing Room
Attention to detail and opulent finishes abound throughout the bedroom suites. Although natural light to this floor has been maximised, it was essential to pay particular attention to artificial lighting also to ensure that the entire space feels bright.
One area which needed particular attention was The long corridor that leads off to the bedroom suites. In order to break up the visual line and create interest, the ceiling height is staggered and stone pillars are added along the length to offer detail. Full height LED linear wall lights are recessed into each pillar serving the dual purpose of offering visual relief and providing a “frame” in which to mount artwork and add further interest.
Double recessed mirrors with antique bronze fretwork detail provide a focal point towards the far end of the corridor. To add a dash of intrigue, one of these is actually a secret sliding door into the master dressing room. The master bedroom has a private terrace with hot tub and enjoys stunning views of the Welsh mountains.
A fundamental part of the brief for this property was to create a sensational entertainment and leisure suite. This is housed in the lowest level of the house and is completely subterranean.
It was crucial to creating a space that offers a sensory journey as well as plenty of “wow” moments. As a long space with only one point of entry, it was also vital that all the elements flow seamlessly one into the next.
Initially, the space was designated as a gym. However, with the creative juices flowing this soon evolved into an all-encompassing leisure experience. Here fabrics, textures and lighting combine to create a luxurious and somewhat decadent feel. The tone is set with the fully glazed floor-to-ceiling wine cabinets that flank the entrance from the stair lobby.
Next to the pool table area, a place to relax and unwind with friends. The aim was to create an other-worldly feel, far removed from the living spaces above.
We created this feel with the use of dark, atmospheric colours and contrasting textures and materials, such as the faux crocodile leather panels and central mirrored panels with which we clad the walls. The space now flows through to the bar area.
There were two design considerations at play here. Firstly, we wanted the bar to offer the best view over the alluring pool area and secondly, we needed to create space for changing rooms to ensure that bathers can change before entering the 32-degree poolside area.
To achieve both of these aims the bar was raised using back-lit onyx steps. For the subtle demarcation of space, it was separated from the pool table area with a high gloss dark timber curved partition.
A seating area overlooking the pool ensures maximum visual impact. By raising the bar we had also created space for male and female changing rooms underneath it which are accessed by stairs from either side of the bar.
The pool area itself is opulent and atmospheric with a feature riven stone wall interspersed with grey Marquina stone which is LED backlit for maximum impact. Stepping stones across the pool lead to the gym which can also be accessed from outside via a separate lobby.
Super-slim plot on a steep incline? No problem. It is a perfect example of space planning at its best.
What we achieved with this extraordinary home could not have been possible except for the fact that we became involved at the very early stages.
We were able to work with the architects to achieve this truly show-stopping example of contemporary architecture and design.
SIMON EVANS, MANAGING DIRECTOR
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