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

Sitting on a pebble beach on the Sussex coast, this proposal for a 4-bedroom family home draws inspiration from this environmentally challenging setting. The proposals set out to provide a contextually appropriate response to the site; combining a sensitive architectural approach with modern living spaces, a contemporary and high standard of detailing and a landscape design that complements the beautiful beach setting.

The prevailing wind and driven rain are from the south west, the sun arcs across the sky and reflects off the sea to the south and there are distant views of the Downs to the north. With height restrictions exacerbated by flood prevention levels, existing building lines and neighbouring views to protect, this three storey house has its principal mass of a two storey element set on a north-south axis with single and two storey secondary elements to the west and east and a third set-back storey sitting on top of the primary element. The house is clad in vertical and horizontal silver-grey timber boarding, reminiscent of sun and sea bleached driftwood with the top floor clad in ribbed black rubber, reflecting tar-clad seaside structures of the past.

All main habitable spaces (bedrooms, living areas, library, snug/study) face the beach and sea, with glimpses to the Downs to the north. The secondary south facing terrace is protected from prevailing wind and driven rain by the adjacent building mass, so that outside entertaining can be enjoyed even on a windy day.

Highly insulated and air tight external envelope, high performance fenestration (with specialist solar coating to reduce heat gain), solar shading (fins and canopies), a ‘heavy’ internal thermal mass (solid internal walls and floors) and natural cross ventilation achieve a low-energy use home that is supplemented by photovoltaic and solar panels, an air source heat pump and a mechanical background ventilation system with heat recovery. The structure forming the external walls is constructed using hollow blockwork manufactured from recycled wood pallets and filled with concrete and insulation. Concrete for the raft foundation and infilling the external walls is cement free. The coppiced timber cladding is sourced locally.

We commenced initial proposals before the COVID-19 lockdown. The developing concept proposals were shared with all of the office (who were home working) at various stages of the design development, criticised and improved upon before ‘presenting’ the proposals to the client via an online video conferencing facility. The ability to share documents on this platform was straightforward and allowed for a focused presentation and discussion. It is hoped that a planning application will be submitted before the lockdown ends.