The property is directly adjacent to Rye Nature Reserve, one of the most important conservation sites in Britain. The site is formed of undulating shingle deposits formed as the sea receded over centuries. The existing property was a small 2 room bungalow with a collection of sheds in various states of disrepair connected to the bungalow.
It was not possible to refurbish the existing building and hence our brief was to create a modern building that responded to the unique context of the nature reserve. The site looks out across the reserve to the Mary Stanford Lifeboat building. This is a grade 2 listed building constructed in 1882 in pre-cast shingle based concrete, a pioneering construction method in its time.
The lifeboat station plays a large part in the cultural heritage of the nature reserve hence a key design move was to echo the vernacular shape of the Lifeboat building while using modern methods of construction.
Traditional architectural elements such as gutters and eaves have been removed or concealed to allow crisp clean detailing that emphasises the primary form. Other local heritage structures that influenced the design are the concrete pill boxes found around the reserve.
Slot like windows carefully positioned around the new building frame wide angle views of the landscape like those found in the pill boxes. The building is entirely clad in vertical larch boarding which adds a softer more intimate texture to counter the bold form of the building.
The larch will gradually shed the applied grey stain to silver naturally over time. The Larch cladding continues to wrap the inside of the building with elements of coloured stone terrazzo laid on the floor to reflect the colour of the natural shingle ridges.
The main superstructure is formed of a highly-insulated Timber frame with larch cladding fixed externally and internally. An air source Heat pump combined with Solar Thermal panels provides all hot water and heating needs. Wastewater is treated in a new onsite Bio Disk Treatment plant.
All windows and Doors are either triple and double glazed units in a timber and aluminium composite frame. This is a sustainable family house, respectful to the historical and environmental heritage of the location, crafted in a vernacular form which seeks to re-establish a physical connection to the surrounding shingle landscape. Source and photos Courtesy of RX Architects.
Article by Marco Rinaldi