Following the completion of the house and its enjoyment for a year or two the client realised that there was a fundamental piece of the jigsaw missing from the lifestyle he had created. Although the house enjoyed many outstanding features, looking out onto the driveway hinted at the missing component…
Our client’s collection of sports cars sat on a driveway in the affluent south Manchester suburb where the weather was not always as pretty as the cars themselves.
The cars were isolated, hardly ever garaged as a result of an awkward entry point to the ‘white box’ garage itself which involved reversing back up a steep driveway to get the cars out. From within there was the usual hoarding of garage paraphernalia and wheelie bins to negotiate as well as two structural pillars fairly awkwardly positioned. The floor to ceiling heights were already on the low side and yet we needed to get air conditioning and fresh air into the space. And if we were to create a dual car and entertaining space we needed to provide a break between the garage space and living space that met with building regulations.
Gaining a reputation as a specialist in creative residential space planning and fit out, our client turned to us for a solution.
The wish list evolved from housing two to three of the best cars in a plush environment that offered ease of access, to then include an entertaining space (though initially a cinema which was to go on to be housed elsewhere in the home) where our client could play pool in the glamour of a subterranean bar and watch the football with his friends. The technology wish list soon became a desire to push the boundaries within a tight pre-built space and was not without its challenges. Our client wanted the space to feel like an exciting break from the every day. A ‘play’ area to wow guests and relax. Celebrating a moody underground club feel overspilling with technology, luxurious surfaces, intrigue and showmanship.
The space planning was critical and the task was to provide a feast for the eyes in a journey from the staircase leading off the main hallway in the house creating the tension. The key was to hint at something that would very quickly become an incredibly exciting section of the house, revealing it step-by-step and then providing at the right moment the all-important ‘jaw dropping’ moment.
In stark contrast to the clean and light-filled ambience to the rooms directly surrounding this stairwell we enticed the journey juxtaposing the darker tones below with a tactile padded leather wall on the corridor space to the side of the staircase and introduced some low level lighting. The intrigue entices you to the lower entrance plateau. This lighting carefully eluded to an opening in the leather panelling which discretely revealed the most glamorous of bathrooms with specialist metallic polished wall and bespoke basin finished off with a polished plastered ceiling and Italian sanitary ware.
Beyond the staircase corridor one almost anticipates the pull of something spectacular looming and you arrive at an oversized tinted pivot glass door with huge hand made crushed metal handle. The view beyond is both unexpected and overwhelming.
Curved and tinted floor to ceiling glass surrounds an illuminated turntable on which sits proudly the most striking of the client’s vehicles, spectacularly lit as if the hero item in a priceless gallery.
Our client does not stop reveling in the jaw dropping moments it creates with every newly invited guest viewing.
Once our CAD plans were progressed to an acceptable level, this CGI was an early guidance commissioned by ourselves on behalf of the client and helped the external teams understand our vision.
What is so remarkable is that save a few minor detail last minute client “changes of mind” the final execution is almost indistinguishable from our early vision render! Our client was so enthused on completion he actually posted a ‘can you tell the difference’ style photo message on social media.
Practicality of the turntable as a solution to a tight space Once we had decided on using a glass encased car turntable for both the visual impact and also to provide that element of practicality, we then had the challenge of working with engineers and a superb solution-driven builder to plane out just enough from the structural slab to not undermine the integrity of the floor but give us the levels we required to successfully sink the turntable and maintain a flush floor.
The Design Practice by UBER worked hand in hand with specialist AV contractors to bring the space to life technologically and they did not disappoint. Every single element of the garage space and its electrical possibilities were considered to the ‘nth’ degree giving the client the possibility to start the car from a touch panel, rotate the vehicle to pre-set positions or continual ‘display spin’. And when the system is not in use the vehicle will always come to rest pointing outwards, towards the garage entrance for fast drive away convenience. With floor and ceiling illumination in showcase mode together with music from all angles and at the same time controlling the temperature in the chilled wine cellar and bringing fresh air into the pool room.
Floor sensors on gate entry detect which of your vehicles is entering the garage space and all the settings can be customised to suit the particular driver as they drive in, from the music that greets you, to the lighting and even heating levels.
There are sensors on every door within the man-cave, which not only enhance safety (the turntable won’t operate if the door is open), but also notifies the owner if the wine cellar door is left open, for example. The features also include automated audio to the bathroom, so when it is in use the occupant can enjoy music or sports commentary filtered through from the games room. Never again will the homeowner’s guests take a natural break and miss the football commentary when a goal is scored!
The lighting scheme has been carefully considered to not only be entirely flexible to use but work with all the contrasting surfaces to give the most dramatic impact possible to this moody space. From the shiny and reflective surfaces of floors and polished plaster ceilings, to the soft leather paneling and backlit quartz pops of colour and the industrial decorative drop lights, each aspect of the lighting was crucial in bringing this theatre spectacularly to life for the most incredible impact possible.
The circular ceiling feature that sits above the turntable was a masterpiece in design and engineering in itself. Weighing over a ton and being suspended from a heavily clustered ceiling full of pipe work and cabling, it needed a great deal of thought. In the design intent it was critical that we achieved a glow from the amber back lit precious quartz that we had set our hearts on using together with a smoked mirrored central section to show the car off and reflect its beautiful aero dynamic shapes across the roofline.
However, the weight of the stone was substantial and proved a problem for use in the circular ceiling detail above the car as well as the fact that the waste in non-usable material would have been enormous. We managed to get the slabs of the precious stone to site and once correctly illuminated with a continuous light sheet we photographed the pieces and then printed the high resolution image onto lightweight acrylic to use on the ceiling section. This was highly successful and the faux material works harmoniously with the real precious stone in the bar and wine cabinet areas, something that would have been almost impossible to achieve had we not photographed and used the same pieces.
Our initial concept, creative space planning and final execution, set about styling a car ‘trophy cabinet’, to take the very finishes from inside these stunning vehicles and translate them onto the walls of the garage together with some bespoke hotel inspired materials. The journey needed to dazzle guests from entry impact and create intrigue over to an escape area to relax and entertain.
We split the space from an unbelievable car showcase to house an entertainment section: a pool/movie room with display cocktail bar, a wine cellar and a WC. All the visual spaces tie in with a theme of tactile materials such as leather, backlit smokey quartz, eel skin wallpaper.