Extraordinary Extensions viewers slam property tycoon’s ‘obscene’ and ‘tasteless’ £11MILLION mega-basement under his historic Knightsbridge home – complete with sauna and swimming pool
Extraordinary Extensions viewers criticised a property tycoon’s ‘obscene’ two-storey mega-basement built under his historic Knightsbridge home.
London developer Kam Babaee bought Amberwood House, the former home of renowned ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn, for £22 million, but said it was not suited modern way of life spent an extra £28 million renovating the house, including spending £11 million on the sprawling basement.
The house, at at 17A Thurloe Place, was originally built in the 1928 and was the Panamanian embassy between the early 1930s and late 1990s, where Margot resided with her ambassador husband Dr Roberto Emilio Arias.
But now it is being transformed into an ultra luxury property, which Kam likens to a ‘seven-star hotel’, complete with a sauna, steam room, swimming pool, gym, and living area in the basement. Work is still underway but he hopes to sell the property for £75million once it is complete.
Viewers were unimpressed by the work, saying it ruined the integrity of the historic property. One tweeted: ‘Obscene amounts of money, obscene designs and not even a token nod to environment concerns. Disgusting.’
London developer Kam Babaee bought Amberwood House, the former home of renowned ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn, for £22 million, but said it was not suited modern way of life spent an extra £28 million renovating the house, including spending £11 million on the sprawling basement. Pictured, a shot of the work being carried out on the property
The Knightsbridge home is being transformed into an ultra luxury property, which Kam likens to a ‘seven-star hotel’, complete with a sauna, steam room, swimming pool, gym, and living area in the basement. Work is still underway but he hopes to sell the property for £75million once it is complete. Pictured, a shot of the high-end basement from last night’s programme
The developer told Tinie Tempah, left, that the house is not a ‘five-star-hotel’ but a ‘seven-star-one’ and that he only used the best materials for it. Pictured, the presenter and developer in the property on last night’s show
Kam, who is known in the developing business for giving glamourous London house modern makeovers, bought the house in the 2010s and turned it into a mega mansion.
‘When Amberwood House first come on the market, I was like a kid in a toy store, I couldn’t wait to look at the house,’ Kam said.
‘When I walk down the driveway and I realise what’s behind that secret front door, it is really is exciting.’
All Kam kept was the house’s outer walls, but he redid the house completely, and dug down to extend it vertically, going as deep as 30 metres below ground.
Presenter Tinie Tempah said Kam’s extension was one of the last mega basements built in Kensington in Chelsea. He explained that such basement have now been banned due to noise, vibrations and dust.
All Kam kept was the house’s outer walls, but he redid the house completely, and dug down to extend it vertically, going as deep as 30 metres below ground. Pictured, work is still being carried out in the property
Presenter Tinie Tempah said Kam’s extension was one of the last mega basements built in Kensington in Chelsea. He explained that such basement have now been banned due to noise, vibrations and dust. Pictured, an aerial view
The whole basement is clad floor-to-ceilling in sought-after marble shipped directly from Italy. Kam even explained he sent some of the marble back at a cost because he was not happy with the way it looked
The second lower ground floor of Amberwood House boasts exciting features, including a gym, pictured, a steam room and a hair salon
The swimming-pool, which is still empty at the moment, is one of the main features of Kam’s second lower ground floor, which houses the health suite
Kam continued: ‘It didn’t suit the criteria you need for modern lifestyle living: your hairdressing salon, walk-in wardrobe, indoor swimming pool,’ he said, explaining he planned the renovations for his target audience: ‘to make it viable for a modern rich family, the superstars of the world.
‘I believe in leaving legacies behind, not just building property.’
The main feature of the extension was the 4,000 cube basement, which is spread out over two floors connected by a £480,000 staircase that took weeks to install.
The second lower floor houses the gym, swimming pool, a juice bar, steam room, shower and changing room, as well as a hair salon.
The first lower ground floor hosts a commercial kitchen as well as a family kitchen, a club room, laundry room and a massive living room.
In order to avoid relying on artificial light, Kam also created a jaw-dropping sunken terrace for natural light.
Kam, pictured, said he has been in love with Amberwood House from the moment it got on the market, and that he felt like a ‘kid in a toy store’. Work is still being carried out on the property (pictured)
Amberwood house is a brick build from the 1920s which was one a socialite hotspot. Kam bought it with plans to develop it in the early 2010s
Viewers said spending so much money on a basement extension a obscene, and that said the renovations were an act of ‘vandalism’
The whole extension is made of one of the most sought-after marbles, with Tinie remarking Kam was all about ‘attention to detail’ to achieve ‘opulence on the highest level.’
‘You must have taken all the marble out of Italy for this,’ Tinie said. ‘I’ve been to some spas in my time Kam, and it’s not just any spa, it’s next-level,’ he added.
Kam admitted he had to go over budget to complete the renovations of Amberwood House, however, he said he ‘hadn’t worked out’ how much yet.
Tinie was deeply impressed with the extension’s results. However, viewers felt very different and said it was ‘obscene.’
‘Shame the original listed building and its heritage is forgotten about for an obscene extension,’ one said.
‘When you are over budget by millions and you just smirk,’ another said.
‘I’m sick of rich people with too much money. It’s obscene and gross,’ one wrote.
THE GLAMOROUS HISTORY OF AMBERWOOD HOUSE
The five bedroom house was originally built in the 1928.
During WWII Amberwood House become the focus of intrigues and spies, including a plot by the Germans to blow up the Panama canal which was successfully foiled.
Dame Margot Fonteyn was born in Surrey in 1919 and became one of the most celebrated dancers on the international stage.
She studied dance throughout the world including in London and Hong Kong.
She was made president of the Royal Academy of Dancing in 1954 and became a Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1956.
In 1955 she married Dr Roberto Emilio Arias (1918-1989), a diplomat and son of Harmodio Arias, President of Panama during the 1930s.
In the same year as they married, Roberto was appointed Panamanian Ambassador and Amberwood House became their official London residence.
The glamorous couple mixed with royalty, politicans and celebrities and guests to Amberwood House during the 1950s and 1960s included Princess Margaret, Antony Armstrong-Jones, John Wayne, Yves Saint Laurent, Michael Somes, Peter Sellers, Sir Frederick Ashton and Judy Tatham.
Rudolf Nureyev, Fonteyn’s most famous dance partner, stayed as a guest in Amberwood House with Fonteyn whilst his contract with the Royal Ballet was negotiated after he defected to the West in 1961.
In 1959 Roberto was dramatically charged with attempting a coup attempt against Panamanian President Ernesto de la Guardia Jr but the allegations were dropped after a change of government.
In 1964 Roberto was shot in Panama City by political associate Alberto Jimenez who accused Roberto of having an affair with his wife. Airlifted back to London Roberto was treated for 18 months in London hospitals and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
The shooting ended Roberto’s diplomatic career and the couple moved to Amerden Bank, their country home in Taplow, which Fonteyn had purchased in 1954; the pair relocating to Panama after Fonteyn’s retirement.
By the late 1990s Amberwood House had become extremely outdated forcing the Panamanian Embassy to relocate to a newly refurbished mansion at 40 Hertford Street in Mayfair. Amberwood House was then rented out to various tenants but became increasingly run-down.
In need of rescue, Amberwood House was acquired by K10 Group in 2011 who then devised plans with GMA Architecture to refurbish and extend the property, which was successfully granted in April 2016. The specification and interior design scheme has been devised by K10 Group working with leading international design house Argent Design.