LONDON MUCK AND ICE, ICE, BABY
Digging your way to Hobbit Land? Apparently in central London, the rich and mighty are. They’re called Iceberg homes. The name Iceberg refers to the actual ocean iceberg—a lot more is lurking beneath the surface. What one views above ground is only the tip of a very larger whole. In Kensington, Dorset, Chelsea, Belgravia, and Cheshire, the wealthy mud people are digging deep within their Neo-Georgian homes adding as many as 3-4 levels. Forget the old adage what goes up must come down. The wealthy are expanding their empires to the fires down below. It’s the new must have accessory, better than any Chanel brooch. Need an underground floor to house your vintage Ferrari’s? Can do! These dugout fortifications include private movie theatres, pools, underground discos, servant’s quarters and dog and people spas. Some icebergs even have waterfalls! Yes, the super-wealthy are truly downwardly mobile.
The Sunday Telegraph has said “Everyone has gone basement mad!” As early as 2010 Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi (aka ‘the choker’) dug deep and designed floors for a wine cellar and bar, a gym and swimming pool. The cable television tycoon David Graham has produced plans for a four-story basement that is larger than his home itself. This iceberg basement addition can add 15 to 20% to the value of the home. In today’s London real estate market, the average home cost is $760,000.00 according to “The Economist’. That is roughly ten times more than the average London income.
Ten years ago, there were only sixty-four planning applications for basement extensions. Today the applications for building well exceed 1,000.
There are, justifiably so, many critics of this architectural movement. Joan Collins, the celebrity actress, is one of many who are deeply concerned about what the construction is doing to the environment and how iceberging is structurally damaging other homes. So bad is this iceberg digging, it’s causing nearby homes to sink so that door frames are shifting and people cannot literally get out of their homes and flats. The streets are littered with construction rubble and armies of trucks taking away mud tonnage to God knows where. Some streets are obstructed for two years and counting. Could we be seeing this stateside? With city and town restrictions forbidding building upward, this could soon be a phenomenon. It happened in Redmond, Washington. The Microsoft Office Campus Headquarters iceberged their company parking lots. You rarely see a car on that site.
Gives new meaning to Petula Clark’s ‘Downtown’. Downtown is going underground.