design, create and deliver considered, responsive & contextual architecture; buildings, places & communities for all.

At the end of the 19th century and into the 1930’s it was popular to construct seaside bungalows from disused railway carriages, an early form of off-site prefabricated housing and repurposing. Two carriages (without wheels) were taken to the building plots by horse and cart, positioned each side of the site and laid on timber railway sleeper foundations. The space created between the carriages being covered over with metal roof trusses to form a large open plan living and dining space, whilst the long and thin carriages were divided into smaller cellular spaces for the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms – each space being accessed from the living area through the original ‘slam shut’ carriage doors. Externally the carriages where often unrecognisable as an outer skin of rendered clinker blockwork or corrugated asbestos sheeting was required to keep the harsh seaside weather away from the timber carriages.

100 years later, the carriages are coming to the end of their life as it has become uneconomical to continue to repair this type of construction and heat uninsulated spaces.

Drawing conceptual inspiration from the original construction principal, this new three-bedroom home maintains an open plan double height living space to one side of the plot, with two stacked ‘carriages’ forming the cellular living spaces to the other side. The timber framed carriage element is clad externally in timber and corrugated sheeting is used for the walls and pitched roof to the living space. Internally the timber frame will be clad in beech veneered plywood. Prefabrication is being considered. Planning consent is due in April 2022 and construction on site will commence in late 2023.

The original carriages will not go into landfill, but instead are being gifted to a local steam railway line who intend to use parts for refurbishing their historical rollingstock.