Lifeboat volunteers have been saving lives in Selsey, West Sussex, for over 150 years. In 2017, a new chapter for the RNLI in Selsey began following the opening of a state-of-the-art facility.
The two-storey building, designed by Studio Four Architects and constructed by Reside Construction, comprises 2 boathouses and a crew facility block. The opening of the new building coincided with the arrival of an all-weather Shannon class lifeboat, the latest class of lifeboat currently deployed by the RNLI. Selsey is also home to a D-class inshore lifeboat.
The building was recently awarded a RICS South East Award in the ‘Community Benefit’ category, recognising the functional yet stylish design. Judges were particularly impressed with station’s facilities and the fact over £500,000 was raised locally to help fund the project.
Commenting on the award win, a spokesperson for Studio Four Architects said:
“Winning a RICS Award means a great deal to all those involved with the project. It is a proud moment that celebrates the hard work and dedication of not only the design team and contractor, but also the supporting community of Selsey, local and national volunteers and fundraisers of the RNLI.”
The idea of a new lifeboat station in Selsey was first floated in 2015 when Selsey was allocated a Shannon class lifeboat. The previous facility consisted of a small boathouse on the beach and an offshore boathouse housed on the pier but something more substantial was therefore required. Construction on the project began in early 2016.
In addition to its two boathouses, the new station is also modern crew facilities such as a workshop, changing room and a training room as well as visitor areas and an RNLI shop. It was built using a glulam beam and steel frame structure. The roof is a timber tongue and groove roof deck while the underside is exposed internally.
As RNLI stations are traditionally positioned in harsh environments, they are designed to a high specification to limit maintenance and running costs. Selsey, for example, incorporates a ground-source heat-pump from boreholes. This helps power the underfloor heating, which in turn provides a background temperature to the accommodation areas of the building. The building was also designed with high levels of thermal insulation and air-tightness. Fenestration included robust, high performance double-glazed storm-proof hardwood windows accompanying translucent GRP sectional overhead stacking boathouse doors which allow natural light into the boathouses.
The success of the RNLI lifeboat station in Selsey is a testament to its community roots and the strong working relationship between the designers, builders and volunteers.
The RNLI has more than 200 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland, from the River Thames to Loch Ness. Additionally, the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches across the UK. Since it was founded in 1824, the charity has saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up more than 95% of the organisation including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew.