Souterrains (or from the French word sous terrain means
"Underground") in this century dates back to the Iron
Age. These passages, caverns or caves were used as living spaces,
storage facilities or passageways for assisting persons who needed
an escape route. France, Ireland and Scotland still hold many
olden time souterrains.
Modern Souterrain Home
The essential element of a Souterrain is functionality. Depending
on the accessibility and structure, the uses of a Souterrain can
be limitless. Souterrains can be underground dwellings themselves,
or can serve as basements to houses that are above ground or earth
Some houses built in modern times that use Souterrains as basements
or even underground garages do so for ease of access to plumbing,
cable television access points, heating and central air ducts.
Boilers to facilitate heating are often located in this area as
The uses of a Souterrain, although multiple, can also depend
on existing geological factors, and building codes for the particular
region. In the early building periods a Souterrain was used many
times as a crude storage space.
Now, however, they can be as gorgeous as any above ground living
space. A well planned Souterrain is easily transformed when during
the construction phase the crucial elements of design and layout
are already taken into consideration.
Half Excavated Irish Souterrain
Consider when creating a habitable Souterrain the elements in
the above ground level and try to incorporate close to if not
the same elements. Think about the introduction of natural light
and air with the insertions of windows, and depending on the land
slope, a door. While this option may not be open to homes already
constructed you can still add elements to make the occupants feel
comfortable in their new below ground pad.
Blah, Blah, Blah
Ideally there will be a concrete floor and columns already in
place to work with. Covering the exposed rafters and ductwork
with typical ceiling material and paint is a great start. Make
good uneven concrete floor and install wooden flooring. This brings
a look of quality to an otherwise bland or blah space.
Shift all laundry, storage items and access points to an area
that can be cornered off from the rest of the living space. Insulate
if not already done so and cover insulation with drywall or other
quality building materials. Divide space into rooms as necessary.
Install elegant roof or wall lighting. To spice things up a little
more add paintings and wall décor to otherwise bare wall
With these little changes you can create an entire upmarket living
space ready to receive occupants. This Souterrian living space
can be extremely comfortable and inviting. If done well it can
also add increase value of your home.