Dungeness in Kent is one of the largest expanses of shingle in the world. It is of international conservation importance for its geomorphology, plant and invertebrate communities and birdlife. This is recognised and protected through its conservation designations. Designed by NORD as a ‘living experience’, the brief required a simple house comprising simple accommodation. The notion of daily ‘rituals’ and the close relationship with nature, is a common feature of the design approach and has been used as a tool for organising and positioning key spaces within the house.
Food production and dining are key moments in the day and the position of the kitchen, dining area and glasshouse have been selected to maximise a South Easterly aspect and daylight into these spaces. The external smokehouse has been retained as part of the experience of the house and site. The location of the existing buildings and their material qualities dictated the external envelope of the house. Situated in the distinctive Dungeness landscape, it is important that the building is sensitive to its surroundings and sits comfortably with the local vernacular. This is a modest building, simple in form and evocative of the functional buildings currently occupying the plot.
The exterior wall has been used as a starting point for exploration. Our approach wraps the traditional building forms in a continuous skin of tarred shingle, a material that is extensively used in the area. The natural imperfections of shingle create subtle changes around the building but the house takes on two very distinctive characters: a series of window shutters when closed make the building appear seamless, introverted and with no point of access. It appears as a defensible structure, cloaking the interior from the extreme changes in weather.
Once open the shutters allow access, both visual and physical; here the house takes on a very different character, opening up to the external environment and integrating the spaces inside with the distinctive Dungeness landscape. The black silhouettes of the elevations are punctured with carefully positioned window openings strategically placed to exploit views out across the shingle landscape and out to sea.Location: Dungeness, Kent, UK Architect: NORD Architecture Project name: Shingle House Photos: Jim Stephenson