The Environmental Beach House

The Beach House, Pevensey Bay

This contemporary, environmentally friendly house sits directly on the shingle beach at Pevensey Bay. The site was a demanding one – long and narrow, open to full coastal weather, mainly shingle, sitting between two existing bungalows less than one metre away either side and with the sea lapping over the shore line just a short run-down-the-beach away. To satisfy the restrictive planning requirements and minimise disruption to neighbours, whilst at the same time fulfilling the client’s brief, was a challenging process. It resulted in a sympathetic external appearance and a surprising interior.

There is no area of the design that does not feel the external presence of the landscape, the sea, wind, sun and shingle, and yet it protects its occupants from the extreme conditions. The house is dictated by the need to view the sea and yet stay rooted to the land. Vistas stretch from the entrance, via curved walls, through the glazed wall to the sea. Those in the master bedroom are able to lie in bed and gaze out to sea. Open the doors and the views can quite literally take your breath away.

The spiral staircase is the nucleus, an engine, the very heart of the house. Barrelling down throughout the structure, it acts as a gigantic sun-pipe, allowing light to spin off in all directions, penetrating the spaces beyond through varying sizes of openings, some filled with the clients’ specially commissioned stained glass art. This powerful, circular, light-emitting generator gives a free-flowing energy to the house, sweeping its occupants gently through the spaces and into the landscape beyond.

The low-key, low level landscaping links the free-flowing energy of the house to the beach and down to the sea. Lines and curves radiate from the spiral staircase, folding and turning into areas of seating and paths like the waves from the sea itself.