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The architecture trend dividing London’s elites

Underground lairs have hollowed out London.

One of London’s most unusual and extravagant luxury trends might be its gigantic basements.

Newcastle University professor Roger Burrows and his co-authors collected data on every London basement construction project from 2008 to 2019 and mapped it. They found that more than 7,000 basement additions had been built in an 11-year span. These basements were classified in the research as standard, large, and mega-basements — the latter containing multiple levels and extending beyond the footprint of the house. A combination of historic preservation laws, rapidly ballooning property values, and changing tastes has led to a boom in basement construction for the city’s wealthiest homeowners.

This construction hasn’t been without complications. Many London residents see the constant construction as a “plague” that has hollowed out the city, contributed to air pollution, and even changed the acoustics of their homes. Prof. Burrows sees it as a symbol of increasing wealth inequality in the global city.

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