Travel: Stunningly simple and pared-back, The Shingle House is sited on one of the most unusual and poetic landscapes in England, on the shingle beach of Dungeness, near Romney Marsh in Kent. Designed by NORD architects, the dwelling is one of six specially commissioned holiday properties for Living Architecture, a social enterprise that aims to make world-class modern architecture accessible to the public.
The vast beach of Dungeness contains a random collection of fisherman’s huts (many of them owned by artists, including – most famously – the late film-maker Derek Jarman), two lighthouses and the terminus of a miniature coastal steam train. The entire beach is classified as a nature reserve and is filled with unusual flora and is a haven for a plethora of birdlife.
Designed as a ‘living experience’, the brief required a simple house comprising simple accommodation. According to NORD, the notion of daily ‘rituals’ and the close relationship with nature were common features of the design approach, which have been used as a tool for organising and positioning key spaces within the house. Comprising four-bedrooms in three hut-like formations, the location of the existing buildings and their material qualities dictated the external envelope of the house. For the architects and client, as The Shingle House is situated in the distinctive Dungeness landscape, it was important that the building be sensitive to its surroundings and sit comfortably with the local vernacular.
Living Architecture is dedicated to the enjoyment of contemporary architecture. The organisation’s houses are all in fascinating locations and have been meticulously designed for comfort and aesthetic delight (with prices starting from just £20 per person per night). According to the team behind the social enterprise, Living Architecture arose from a desire to shift perceptions of modern architecture; to allow people to experience what it is like to live, eat and sleep in a space designed by an outstanding architectural practice. While there are examples of great modern buildings in Britain, they argue that they tend to be in places that people only pass through (eg. airports, museums, offices) and the few modern houses that do exist are almost all in private hands.
Photography: NORD architects