Sub-terranean extravagant leisure complex, Lancashire

Introduction

No day is ever the same at Design by Uber and many of the projects that we are invited to work on are utterly unique.  One such request was for the space planning and design of an extravagant subterranean leisure facility to be linked to the family home, a Grade II listed manor house.  Working with Cassidy and Ashton architects, the project was ambitious and involved excavating an 11,000 square feet subterranean space to the back of the house and relaying the garden over the completed new build in the form of a lawned ha-ha.  This extensive space was to include a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, treatment rooms, social areas and games areas as well as a bowling alley and garaging for a number of luxury vehicles.

The build was challenging and required the excavation of a tunnel from the existing basement of the house which extends 15 metres underground before opening out into the entrance hall to the new space.   A key requirement was for the garaging and display of a collection of luxury cars.  The space planning was designed with an illuminated rotating turntable and a glazed wall from the garage into the entertainment area.  Our client has an extensive extended family and social events tend to take place at their private residencies.  Hence, a further request was for the space to be flexible and able to accommodate social gatherings for up to 150 people.  With this in mind, the turntable has a dual purpose and turns into the dancefloor when required.  From this starting point the space planning evolved organically with a further circular element to the design, the changing rooms, positioned equidistant from the entrance.  This provides the space with perfect balance and symmetry.  A further circular section was designed around a sunken fire pit.  The additional elements of the design flowed naturally from these visual focal points.  Level changes within the design enable the area to be delineated into separate sections.

The Brief

To create an extensive subterranean space with a full range of leisure facilities that have the “wow” factor with bespoke design elements throughout and specification akin to a 6 star luxury Dubai resort. To house a garage for displaying up to 8 luxury vehicles as well as a fabulous entertaining area able to cater for large social occasions. On a day to day basis the space needed to provide privacy within certain areas such as the swimming pool, changing rooms and meeting area.

Details & Specific Points of Interest

Leaving the main house for the leisure facilities, guests are transported on a journey into a subterranean world of opulent luxury.  The tone is set in the “tunnel” which makes its way gradually underground by means of a floating staircase.  With geometric textured wall coverings, each step has perimeter illumination detailing which creates separate zonal sections, guiding the guest deeper into the subterranean experience with each step.

Once within the leisure complex, the senses are stimulated by dazzling design details throughout.  Rich timbers, dark tones and ambient lighting create a luxury spa feel.  The scheme is elevated to another level by the use of a palette of luxurious materials including geometric concrete tiles, bronze backlit quartz and agate for wall coverings, whilst a variety of finishes are used on the floors including large format Italian marble tiles and grey timber finish flooring with bronze trim.

A circular entrance hall with louvered screens offers glimpses into the different zones, piquing guests’ curiosity.  A central meeting area is an important part of the space and features sunken seating around the central firepit.   It is designed with specialist finishes and exceptional lighting to create a visually aesthetic space.  The asymmetric banquette seating adorns the sunken terrace which is accessed via a shaped staircase.  To ensure privacy, the space is flanked by privacy screens and an illuminated mesh voile.

Beyond this can be found a break out area, juice bar, media section and a private dining area for 12 people, together with a catering kitchen which ensures that large scale events are perfectly achievable. A games area where guests can play pool or foosball leads into a two lane bowling alley.

Clever demarcation of the wider social spaces is achieved with angular wall lines and contemporary ceiling details which mimic the forms below to intelligently create zonal spaces.  One such space is the dining area with bespoke polished wood table and statement chandelier.  An atmosphere of overt opulence is cultivated with extravagant details – a carved plaster wall gilded with gold leaf, and ripple effect basilica champagne eglomise glass cladding a centre ceiling panel, as well as feature wall columns.

Another signature element of the whole scheme, the bowling alley, is designed in rich, dark tones with hedonistic finishes which bring to mind some of the world’s very best hotels.  The bowling lanes are created in highly polished black ash inlaid with brass.  Large format Italian marble tiles on the floor complement the geometric pattern leather wall panels which run the length of the bowling alley and are interspersed with bronze mirrored panelling.  The effect that is created is akin to that of an atmospheric “house of mirrors”.

Beyond this can be found a break out area, juice bar, media section and a private dining area for 12 people, together with a catering kitchen which ensures that large scale events are perfectly achievable. A games area where guests can play pool or foosball leads into a two lane bowling alley.

The wellness facilities are situated to the front of the space and are entered via concealed doors.  They are designed to be functional and modern as well as comfortable and welcoming.  In the swimming pool area a neutral and tranquil palette of natural materials is enhanced by the strategic placement of feature lighting such as the drop pendants positioned over the spa.  Although a glazed wall separates the swimming pool from the main social area, fretwork panels ensure discretion and privacy.  Textured walls and a ceiling raft structure add interest whilst reflective ceiling details over the pool add a sense of movement.  Luxurious day beds are positioned on floating platforms which hover above the pool and are placed to take full advantage of the stunning views over the rolling countryside visible through the edge to edge infinity glazing on the far side of the pool.

The rest of the wellness space – the gym, sauna, steam room and the massage rooms are all designed to a similar spec.  The changing areas enjoy a boutique feel which transcends use from daytime through to night time.  Mirrored bronze walls with chain mail effect, majestic marble walls and fishscale style mosaic tiles to the feature columns create a sophisticated look.

A sliding glass partition separates the main leisure area from the garage which offers space for housing of several long wheel base luxury cars.  This is designed as a spectacular display space with the feel and specification often attributed to a luxury car showroom.  A fully glazed wall from the entertainment area into the garage ensures a seamless flow between the two spaces, whilst the garage itself is designed to be vibrant and interactive.  Each car sits in its own parking bay of grey limestone with inset perimeter lighting to illuminate each vehicle.  However, pride of place is taken by a rotating turntable display for one vehicle.  This is set into a calacatta verde marble floor and features an alabaster illuminated edging detail.  Antiqued mirror panels on the ceiling and on the walls behind the car displays give a feeling of space and showcase the vehicles from every angle.  Leather wall cladding on the perimeter wall provides a luxurious backdrop whilst innovative lighting is used to great effect.

This project was unique in its focus on ensuring that the leisure space designed was amorphous enough to work equally well for daytime or night time use, to offer separate accommodation spaces whilst also being able to host over one hundred people for a social occasion.  We were able to deliver on the brief by delineating spaces with raised or lowered ceiling and floor details and by the use of movable partitions.  The ambient mood lighting which was built in throughout the scheme ensured that daytime to night time styling was easily achieved.