Simon Conder Associates


El Ray for a private client, Kent

The looming presence of Dungeness power station dominates the surreal landscape. In this windswept setting the small holiday house sits lightly on the shingle. Leaving the original 1870s timber railway carriage at its heart, unmoved since the 1930s, is a stroke of sensitive and humorous genius. It is both mad and perfect. The five elevations are already settling into the landscape like driftwood. Future archaeologists may well puzzle over the hidden symbolic meaning of its wine-glass shaped plan. But it catches the sea breeze when balmy and, being triple-glazed, deflects it when hostile. Needing no energy from the nuclear monolith next door, it mimics the self-sufficiency of a hermit crab.

“Dungeness Beach in Kent is a classic example of 'Non Plan' and the houses that populate the beach have developed through improvisation and bodge. The scheme develops this tradition in a way that responds to the drama and harshness of the landscape. The new house incorporates a 19th-century railway carriage that formed the basis of the original, much smaller, house. It forms the centre point of the main living area and accommodates the kitchen. A fully-glazed South elevation gives views out over the Channel and a series of smaller slot windows on the other elevations give focused views of the adjacent lighthouse, coastguard station and nuclear power station. The sloping roof deck acts as an observation platform with extraordinary 360 degree views of the beach and the sea. The plan incorporates two courtyards to provide shelter from the constant wind. Environmental control is achieved through a combination of passive solar gain, cross ventilation and a wind turbine.”

Simon Conder Associates
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