A highly distinctive holiday home featuring black tarred shingles in perfect keeping with its environment on a Kent beach has won a 2011 RIBA award for design excellence.
Designed by Nord (Northern Office for Research and Design) Architecture, the home – known as the Shingle House – is designed with a warm concrete and timber finish internally and is currently being let out for holidays by Living Architecture.
It has been long-listed for the 2011 RIBA Manser Medal – the annual award which recognises the best new house or major extension in the UK and has also won a Scottish Design Award for Best Residential project 2011.
The brainchild of philosopher Alain de Botton, the house is dedicated to creating modern architecture which can act as holiday villas and thus educate the public on the principles of strong design.
Designed as a ‘living experience’, the brief required a simple house comprising simple accommodation. The notion of daily ‘rituals’ and the close relationship with nature, are common features of the design approach, which have been used as a tool for organizing and positioning key spaces within the house.
The contractor was Ecolibrium Solutions, while structural engineer for the project was Jane Wernick Associates and quantity surveyors were Boyden Group LLP. Anglia Building Surveys ensured all parties fulfilled their Health and Safety obligations under the CDM Regulations on this project.
The site in Dungeness is challenging, with an unstable shingle bed, extremes of sun, rain and wind and numerous government regulations. It is Britain’s only desert, a shingle wasteland punctuated by hardy, brightly-coloured plants.
A dedicated conservation area, the vast beach is home to a peculiar assortment of buildings and activities, from tiny fishermen’s huts – many of them owned by artists, including, most famously, the late film-maker Derek Jarman – to a giant nuclear power station, lighthouses and the terminus of a miniature coastal steam train.
Alan Pertt, of NORD, said: “One of the main challenges was to build a new house within such constrained ecological-protected, planning guidelines. We were not allowed to build a new home if we were not replacing another one at Dungeness.
“So to receive such an award, having built under such strict planning guidelines and then for the house to be assessed rigorously by RIBA’s architects, is fantastic. We are all delighted with the outcome.”
The architects used four conjoined buildings – a former fisherman’s cottage, a shop selling fish, a small ‘smokie’ and a fishing shed – and turned them into one living space, with a living room, a bathing room with a sunken concrete bath, kitchen and dining space.
The external skin of the house is entirely ‘cloaked’ with a combination of tarred, timber-cut shingles and timber boards.
The chimney is the only concrete element seen from outside, and reflects the colour of the surrounding landscape, in contrast to the tarred external walls.
Sage-green sea kale, blue bugloss, red poppy and yellow sedum give bursts of seasonal colour in the stony desert landscape of Dungeness, but it is the purple hue in August from the viper bugloss that is referenced in the purple heart floor which weaves its way throughout the house.
The Shingle House responds perfectly to the specific geography of Dungeness, and the changing environmental conditions of the site throughout the seasons.
The home, which sleeps eight people, is the second completed home for Living Architecture. The project is a series of rentable holiday homes around the UK built by established and emerging architects.
NORD’s reference points for the ‘Shingle House’ are both in the local vernacular style and the traditional building method of wrapping a structure in one continuous material.
NORD is a young Glasgow practice which, since its inception ten years ago, has won many awards including the Architecture Grand Prix Prize at the 2001 Scottish Design Awards for completion of the Tramway Arts Centre; Building Design Young Architect of the Year Award (YAYA) in 2006 and Scottish Architect of the Year in 2007.
Its London 2012 Substation received a RIBA Award in 2010 and made the Stirling Prize long list.
Living Architecture is a new social enterprise set up to revolutionise both architecture and UK holiday rentals. It offers a chance to rent holiday homes designed by some of the most talented architects at work today, and set in some of the most stunning locations in Britain.