In the course of our work at 13|55, we’re privileged to have access to some very unusual and interesting spaces, and our project at Mr D’s Grade II listed mansion just outside of Cheltenham was certainly no exception.

Buried several feet beneath the driveway leading to our client’s property lies a brickwork service tunnel – originally part of a much older house which stood on the site. As part of major refurbishment work to his home, Mr D wanted to convert the 15m long tunnel into a climate-controlled wine cellar.

The space was already being utilised as an underground corridor, connecting a gym area in the main property at one end to a newly constructed oak and glass hot house at the other, meaning that any solution needed to allow the narrow tunnel to continue to function as a throughway.

Mr D was keen to have a cellar with an ‘industrial’ feel, and when we were contacted by the main contractor, he had already rejected a number of design concepts. We visited the property to see the space for ourselves and discuss the brief in more detail, ahead of presenting our own proposal for a storage system combining a bespoke steel framework with shelving made from reclaimed railway sleepers.

A bespoke metal frame runs along one side of the tunnel, supporting two rows of heavy-duty shelving created from hardwood sleepers – cut lengthways for us by a friendly National Trust sawmill. Low level shelves provide storage for wine cases, while neck supports and routed-out indents along the top shelves allow rows of bottles to be laid side by side horizontally. Our client also requested space to display Champagne, and our design incorporates high-level racking sections which rise up to follow the contour of the arched ceiling and provide a striking elevated display area.

The flexible racking system can accommodate in excess of 2,000 bottles in total.

The natural character of this unique space is further enhanced by the use of subtle lighting: LED strips are set into the floor and into the underside of each shelf, while spotlights in the ceiling pick out the Champagne racks.

Double sets of steel and glass doors at either end of the tunnel act as an airlock, ensuring the cellar stays sealed so that our air conditioning unit can maintain a perfect temperature – while still allowing the space to function as an access route.

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