The construction of house extensions underground is enjoying growing popularity. Are iceberg houses the future?
BY: PHILIPPE DE JOCAS
They may not be able to sink ocean liners, but they have certainly had a titanic effect on the real estate market. “Iceberg houses” were greeted coolly by the neighbors as this new architectural trend continues to grow in Europe and France.
The idea is simple: in densely packed, layered neighborhoods like London’s chicest neighborhoods, zoning laws make construction illegal. Homeowners decided to build it instead – they dug out basements, basements and other underground extensions to equip relatively small bungalows. The end result resembles (you guessed it) an iceberg – a tiny visible piece supported by a vast network of underground renovations. In densely populated neighborhoods, this tactic allows individuals to expand their homes while complying with property laws.
Photo across the ages.
Sounds like a great idea doesn’t it? In reality, however, iceberg homes weren’t quite the real estate marvel some touted them for – especially for neighbors. The construction times were often long, loud and ugly. In some cases, iceberg houses were found to be destructive, undermining neighboring foundations. Finally, in 2014, London passed tough anti-practice laws that would put future speleologists out of the way. In some ways, the iceberg housing trend seemed to be the logical conclusion of a series of nasty housing trends – rising cost of living, increasing gentrification of neighborhoods, and urban sprawl that threatens to move downtown from densely populated population centers. Iceberg Housing was an attempt to cure the disease, which merely mutated into a different symptom.
Trying to “bury” our problems did not work. So how can we provide living space in an age of increasingly dense cities? Fifty years from now, scientists and sociologists predict that every square foot must count. Mile-high skyscrapers and condominiums are undoubtedly becoming the norm in large metropolitan areas like Toronto. An alternative solution aims to completely shrink the real estate market instead of growing it big.
The prototypical eco-capsule aims to do just that. The Ecocapsule resembles an egg with a wind turbine and was developed as a simple way to live “off the grid”. It generates wind and solar energy itself and it is possible to cram dozens of Ecocapsules in a comparatively small space. In the meantime, there is promise to build a series of man-made floating houses across the city’s waterways and canals to cope with the population overflow. Future cities could develop Venetian neighborhoods to relieve pressure on overburdened residential areas.While iceberg apartments weren’t quite the miracle they were originally hyped as, their rise and fall indicate the need for better, more affordable housing; As cities continue to grow, new housing options are a must. It’s time to sink or swim. Click here for more home renovation ideas.