Faced in white brick and Siberian larch, a pair of semi-detached houses at Camber Sands, East Sussex, designed by RX Architects, is built to withstand the testing conditions of its coastal location. The site lies directly adjacent to the beach and sand dunes, which are and area of Special Scientific Interest, and the scheme replaces an existing timber-framed bungalow. The twinned beach houses were commissioned by a pair of clients, who wanted them to share a common language externally appearance but to meet divergent requirements internally. “The design developed to allow flexibility in the architecture for each client to customise their own interiors without compromising on a harmonious external appearance,” says the architect. “These slight variations between the two properties allow a subtly individual identity to each house”.
As well as the white-painted brickwork and timber cladding – arranged both vertically and horizontally – the facade treatments comprise aluminium-framed sliding doors with a louvred timber screen, glass balustrades to recessed terraces and planted pea shingle roofs. The building is raised above ground to maximise views to the dunes and to put cars and bikes at a lower level, creating a stepped entrance between stone retaining walls which are densely planted.
Each house has open-plan living, kitchen and dining spaces on the ground floor, with individual rear gardens that lead on to a shared garden with vegetable and herb beds which are maintained using a grey water irrigation system. Large first-floor living rooms with balconies overlook the dunes to the south. Deep overhangs are intended to prevent overheating in the extensively glazed main areas. The houses are heated using air-source heat pumps, which create low levels of heat output into the underfloor heating systems. They have high levels of insulation and air-tightness, reducing the energy demand.