Why you should design a basement into your next scheme

Is your client interested in maximising the potential from their site? Is your current scheme restricted in height? Are you struggling to fit everything onto the site?


Basements provide excellent quality spaces which can often be the answer to these questions. Basements are fast becoming an everyday occurrence in UK architecture. Whilst the impressive towers of modern UK architecture stand proud and tall for all to admire, basements are proving their worth time and again and they can be just as impressive as the mighty skyscrapers of today.

For example, this hotel’s basement interior is of astonishing quality and this basement below will provide vast space to an otherwise small central London site.

As land values in UK Suburbs and Cities continue to rise, Architects, Engineers, Developers and Property owners are realising the benefits of constructing a basement either as a retrofit like this refurbishment of an existing structure in Leicester Square.


Or as a new build like this tower block which was built breaking new ground and starting from nothing.

Perhaps initial thoughts of basements are small, dark and even damp spaces but designers are more innovative as this quote from Nick de Lotbiniere, the head of central London planning at Savills demonstrates:

“We once built garden benches with glass seats and fixed them in place. It’s amazing how much light you can bring in that way,” he says. “Another trick is to create a glass-bottomed pond in the garden.”

There is no doubt innovation and standards in design have risen and a basement which is designed correctly can provide a wonderful space where light is dominant and space is commonplace.


Exeter College

Basements are easily incorporated into any scheme and prove to be very useful. Basements can provide high-quality learning and educational spaces such as this basement designed by Alison Brooks Architects recently at Exeter College, Cohen Quad or in contrast, they can be used to simply make a scheme more viable by providing underground car parking meaning the building can fill the footprint of the land.

A good example of this is seen at this striking residential scheme called Chatham Place, designed by Cartwright Pickard Architects.

Basements can be built as rudimentary structures to house plant and machinery which are used to power impressive structures such as the British i360 Tower.

Or they can be constructed to such a fine standard they are suitable for high quality living such as this award-winning extension.

Michael Achenbaum

Hotelier clients enjoy the concept of basements as their gyms, pools, saunas, ballrooms, bars dancefloors club rooms and cinemas can all comfortably exist below ground which means there is a chance to maximise the bed count above ground. New York hotelier Michael Achenbaum has recently proved this when working with Dexter Moren Associates to design his new impressive Shoreditch destination. The scheme used three stories of basement installed below the new hotel, for further information click here.


Basements can also support good causes such as bringing proton beam therapy to London to aid UCLH in the fight against cancer.

Bouygues UK

FIS are currently working with Bouygues UK on this  5 story basement on Tottenham Court Road which will house four Proton Beam therapy units. Providing space for this type of equipment and the necessary surrounding concrete in central London is a task well undertaken by a multi-storey basement ultra wide basement. This basement structure is to be waterproofed Premcrete Maxiprufe Plus and Premcrete Hydroflow HP.


The Victoria and Albert Museum

Art galleries and museums often make good use of basements which is a testament of their practicality considering the value and fragility of such items displayed. The Victoria and Albert Museum has recently completed a large basement extension designed by AL-A and Arup which now provides a striking outdoor courtyard on its roof. The British Museum has also recently completed an extension of the basement designed by Ramboll which is used for display, events and conferencing. In European Cities, space is perhaps more readily available meaning basements aren’t so commonplace, however, The Louvre in Paris famously uses a striking basement as it’s entrance.

Inevitably basements will become more commonplace in Europe as well as the UK and this stunning new entrance to a government building in Stuttgart by Henning Larsen proves how basements can be used with striking effect to provide wonderful spaces.

Contact FIS

If you are interested in creating a basement on your project and would like advice as to the viability of the scheme and how to waterproof the structure please visit us at www.fisproducts.co.uk or call us on 02380 2761666. Alternatively, you can send us an email at projects@fisproducts.co.uk.