- Area: 322 m²
- Year: 2021
- Design Team: Al Scott, Thomas Bryans, Sarah Castle, Geethica Gunarajah
- Project Architect: Geethica Gunarajah
- Cost Consultant: Measur
- CDM: Philip Waller
- City: Thorpeness
- Country: United Kingdom
Text description provided by the architects. IF_DO has completed a new 320m2 beach house for a private client in Thorpeness in Suffolk. Located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), in close proximity to the North Sea, the design foregrounds the connection to the surrounding landscape, maximising ground floor access to the garden and beach, and first floor views of the sea.
The project replaces an existing, inefficient 1960s dwelling on the site with an energy- efficient house built of robust and durable materials, minimising the demand for environmental conditioning through well-considered massing, openings and internal layouts, ensuring spaces benefit from abundant sunlight, and are naturally ventilated and passively cooled.
The Suffolk-based client – multiple generations of a family – sought a holiday home where they could spend time in the summer with their extended family, to include separate accommodation for grandparents and extra space for visitors.
Two distinct, single-storey elements ground the house, appearing as bookends spanned by a delicate first floor volume which floats atop. The massing creates a clear divide between public and private spaces within the house, with a free-flowing and central communal living space at ground floor, bordered by more private sleeping and utilitarian spaces. At one end is the grandparents’ accommodation, with its own private garden, and guest rooms. At the other end are the entrance hall and utility areas. In the middle is a large, open plan living space wrapped in glass, with a wood-clad pavilion and balcony above it. Bedrooms and an extra family room are located on this upper level. Fluid transitions between inside and out on both floors are created by a series of full-height sliding doors opening onto terraces and balconies.
The ground-floor bookend elements feature minimal, carefully orchestrated apertures, creating an appearance of garden walls that maintain privacy for both inhabitants and neighbours, while the large opening between them blurs the boundary between inhabited spaces and landscape. Internal axes establish meaningful connections with the woodland to the rear, and at first floor, over the street to the sea beyond.
The limited material palette of the new house blends with the sandy tones and textures of the landscape. Pale buff brickwork has been used at ground level, oak cladding on the upper level, which will weather to a silvery grey, and brushed aluminium window frames which reflect the colours of the surroundings.
The house is naturally ventilated. Other environmental measures include a PV array and strategies to protect natural features of ecological value and improve biodiversity on site.