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Vintage Aston Martin showroom; Vintage Aston Martin showroom;

Underground classic car showroom, Warsaw

Engineering an underground classic car showroom

Racing through Italian mountains, the classic Aston Martin DB5 is one of the main characters in the trailer of ‘No Time To Die,’ the latest addition to the James Bond film franchise. Since the car’s first onscreen appearance with the famous British agent back in 1964, Aston Martin has become a cult object for automotive fans around the world.

In Warsaw, Arup has been appointed to work with architectural studio UNISM to engineer an underground showroom for a private collection of heritage Aston Martin cars. Hidden under a grassy knoll in one of the city’s leafy residential areas, a winding access ramp slithers into the subterranean car showroom, where curved walls add texture to this sophisticated car lair.

Parametric design helped define the outline of this showroom powered by geothermal energy. Daylight flooding through a three-metre-wide skylight highlights the organic shape of the room, enhanced with a subtle lighting scheme.

Displaying an eight-strong classic car collection, including the DB2 Drophead and the Vantage, the showroom also features a turning platform to help swiftly park the vehicles, with two extra spaces available for any future additions.

Based on our work developing the curvilinear walls at Warsaw’s Museum of the History of Polish Jews, one of the largest in the world, UNISM invited Arup to partner on the sustainability consulting and engineering design for this unique underground classic car showroom, providing geotechnical, structural, mechanical, electrical, road and public health design. Our specialists also provided a range of services including lighting design and cost management.

Project Summary

10 car spaces



Underground car showroom: engineering unique structures

The cave-like design of the vintage car showroom, nested underground on a relatively small construction site, posed a challenge for our structural engineering team. Combining traditional and digital parametric design methods, our engineers began by simplifying the design in order to carry out the calculations necessary to ensure the stability of the structure.

To deliver both a solid structure and an impactful visual effect, our team devised a three-step solution for the curved walls. The core structure, made of reinforced concrete, will be completed with a steel structure shaping the curvilinear walls and finished off with a layer of sprayed concrete.

The quality of acoustics is essential as the showroom will feature a pop-up cinema imitating a drive-in theatre. To mitigate any potential acoustic issues caused by the unconventional shape of the room, which could cause an endless echo, an analysis was carried out to identify the most suitable material for this space.

To design the ramp entrance, our team carried out a detailed analysis of the cars’ parameters, including the limited turning radius, wheel width and more. Enabling smooth manoeuvring in and out of the showroom was paramount as all cars participate in a range of races across Europe. To maximise the use of available space, the team added a rotating platform to help swiftly park the cars.

Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team equipped with parametric design skills enabled integrating complex geometries with the surrounding landscape through real-time form-finding process, resulting in a cave-like space hidden beneath the park. ” Konrad Weka Director, Unism

Digital tools unlock collaboration

Working with one of a few architectural studios developing designs using solely digital tools, such as BIM 360, Revit and Grasshopper, our teams were ready for a fully digital collaboration. Our combined digital skills helped optimise the project timeline and consider dozens of design options. Parametric design helped us to create and analyse as many as ten different design variants within our hour-long meetings, including calculating the size of the over three-metre wide skylight window necessary to make daylight the primary source of lighting in the underground showroom.

This work also informed the development of an integrated, subtle lighting scheme, creating a dusk-like glow inside that reduces electricity use and enhances the visitor experience.

Harnessing sustainable energy sources

Fully independent from the municipal heat and gas systems, the car showroom harnesses sustainable energy, using thermal mass stored in the ground. Energy modelling conducted by our sustainability consultants at the early stage of the project helped the designers and the client identify the best sustainable solutions for the showroom’s HVAC systems.

To keep the showroom warm during the winter months, our mechanical team designed a ground-source heat pump system powered by 100–metre-deep pipes to collect the heat from the ground. Thanks to the underground location, little energy will be needed to cool down the showroom during summer time.

In order to water the garden above the showroom, an underground water tank will be built to collect rainwater.

Vintage Aston Martins Showroom Vintage Aston Martins Showroom

Storing classic cars: creating the perfect environment

To ensure the perfect conditions to store a classic car collection, UNISM contacted Aston Martin to discuss recommendations, which Arup then incorporated into every aspect of the design.

A river, located less than 30 metres from the showroom, posed an additional challenge with groundwater levels reaching nearly four metres into the excavation, potentially jeopardising the digging works in the short term, and posing risk of damage to the collection in the long term.

Our team designed a double-layer solution to protect against leaks. Metal sheet casing will enable the digging works. Once the excavation is ready, a layer of jet grouting will waterproof the garage from the bottom. As an additional insurance, the museum walls will be made of water-resistant reinforced concrete. Together, these solutions will create a bathtub-like structure, shielding the showroom against water and humidity.

Despite the wide access gate, which lets in a large amount of cold air in winter and hot air in the summer, our mechanical team developed an integrated, nearly invisible HVAC system, creating a stable microclimate with the required temperature and humidity levels. Our engineers also designed a car fume extraction system built into the showroom floor, which can be connected directly to the exhaust pipes to draw the fumes out.

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