The Dune House lies just to the south of the picturesque village of Thorpeness in Suffolk, on an idyllic spot on the very edge of the sea, nestled among rolling dunes. You can walk out from the living room directly onto the beach and enjoy extraordinary panoramic views over the sea from the terraces, bedrooms and bathrooms on the upper floor.
“To get a planning permission it was important to relate to the existing, typical, British seaside strip of houses. The roofscape, the bedroom floor, somehow plays with the formal presence of these buildings, and also brings into mind a romantic remembrance of holidays at bed- and breakfasts while traveling through the UK. The ground floor contrasts this by its lack of relationship to the architecture of the top floor. The living area and the terraces are set into the dunes in order to protect it form the strong winds, and opens equally in all directions to allow for wide views. The corners can be opened by sliding doors; this will emphasize the floating appearance of the top floor.” – JVA Jarmund Vigsnæs Architects
The roof, clad in a lightly tinted orange steel alloy, reflects the changing colours of the sea and sky and the panoramic windows on the ground floor give one a sense of nestling in the dunes while at the same time inviting one out to the beckoning sea beyond. Each of the four peaks of the roof contains a bedroom and a bathroom, with windows carefully positioned to catch intriguing views of the land and sea scape all around. The timber-lined bedrooms all have bath tubs in them, so that one can lie in warm water and, from small adjacent windows, take in glimpses of the North Sea or the meadows which surround the house at the rear.
On the ground floor, a living area, a kitchen and a terrace are set into the dunes in order to protect them from wind and give out equally in all directions, allowing uninterrupted 360 degree views. The corners of the ground floor can be opened by sliding doors, a move which emphasizes the floating appearance of the top floor.
While the materials of the ground floor (concrete, glass and aluminum) root the building with a reassuring sense of heaviness, the upper floor (made of timber planks) give a nautical feel that echoes the gables and seaside huts of the area. The house is a stunning reinvention and reinterpretation of theEnglish seaside dwelling.
Mole Architects collaborated with Norwegian practice Jarmund Vigsnaes Architects on this holiday home commissioned by Alain de Boton’s Living Architecture. The Dune House is situated on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, overlooking the sea on the Suffolk coast. A complicated roof geometry draws inspiration from the seaside strip of houses with an eclectic range of gables and dormer windows.
It’s a romantic house, designed to be both a refuge against the expanse of the North Sea, and a beach-side house open to the sandy dunes. Downstairs all the ‘kit’ is contained in the centre of the house, allowing the rest to be open plan, with areas defined for cooking, eating, and living. Accessed from a secret staircase, the all-wooden bedroom floor has four bedrooms, each under its own pitched roof.
The design and construction of such a striking house takes perseverance. The design itself needed a great deal of work to ensure that all the geometries would work, and that the various spaces would feel right. Once designed obtaining planning isn’t as easy as a more conventional house, and much work was put into the planning documentation to demonstrate that the house wouldn’t detract from the area, and that the scale and material were appropriate. Structurally the house isn’t normal either, with a reinforced cantilevered concrete slab supporting most of the upper floor loads. Mole worked closely with consultants and contractors, all of whom were instrumental in making the house a success: Jane Wernick Engineers, Eurban CLT sub-contractors, and Willow Builders.
Project name: Dune House
Location: Thorpeness, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 52.173994, 1.611615
- Type By Characteristic: Traditional House, Holiday House
- Type By Site: Beach House
- Type By Size: Medium House – (201 sqm – 450 sqm)
- Type By Materials: Glass House
Floor Area: 250 m²
Project Year: 2010
Completion Year: November 2010
Client / Owner / Developer: Living Architecture –
Architects: JVA Jarmund Vigsnæs Architects – Hausmanns gate 6, 0186 Oslo, Norway
Project Architects: Einar Jarmund, Håkon Vigsnæs, Alessandra Kosberg, Anders Granli
Collaborating architect: Mole Architects Ltd. – Floor 2, Burleigh House, 52 Burleigh Street, Cambridge, CB1 1DJ United Kingdom
Contractor: Willow Builders
Structural Engineer: Jane Wernick Associates
Engineer (timber superstructure) : Eurban
Quantity Surveyors: Boyden Group LLP
Clerk of Works: Steve Foot, Techs Project Management
Text Description: © Courtesy of JVA Jarmund Vigsnæs Architects, Living Architecture
Images: © Nils Petter Dale