Sea views and clear design focus

Jez Abbott
22 Feb 2019

A fantastic expanse of sandy beach is the backdrop for striking new geometric seafront house.

The Suttons overlooks the sea at Camber Sands, East Sussex, on the south coast of England and is surrounded by undulating sand dunes designated as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

RX Architects' design evolved around several key principles: a functional family space, a building that can withstand weather extremes but offer good views; a sustainable design.

Varied pockets of external space at ground level offer shelter from the sun, wind and rain. Several balconies at first floor level offer sheltered seating while a roof terrace tops the house.

The roof terrace is surrounded by planted beds, a wildflower and shingle roof and an outdoor fireplace. Landscaping was essential to bed the property into its unique surroundings.

It also acted to create a gentle transition from the sandy beach, up onto the shingle and through to the private outdoor spaces.

Open-plan family spaces at ground floor offer views out across the beach to the English Channel and give direct access to the beach. A first-floor family space which offers privacy but good views.

A pair of 90-meter-deep boreholes within the internal courtyard have create a ground-source system for all the heating and hot water required.

The ground-source heat pump can also be reversed by extracting warmth from the building and exchanging it with cool energy from the ground to condition the interiors in summer.

Solar panels on the roof which provide additional hot water capacity and high levels of insulation define the concrete frame and slab construction.

It is also exceptionally draught free, with an MVHR exchange system to ensure regular conditioned air exchanges. All these factors minimise running costs and ensure a low carbon footprint.

Externally the designs hint at the concrete structural frame by exposing areas of fair faced concrete. There is a concrete datum plinth while garden walls and landscaping also use fair faced concrete which has been selected to withstand the extreme coastal environment.

Concrete shuttering has been intentionally rough sawn to leave the timber impression on the concrete when struck.

Other areas of the elevations are clad in natural cedar combined with a black render finish to the third floor, said architect Pierre Devlin.

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