Black-stained house built on Dungeness beach by Rodić Davidson Architects

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London-based Rodić Davidson Architects has become the latest architecture studio to build a house on the shingle landscape of Dungeness beach in Kent, England (+ slideshow).

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects

Replacing an old fisherman's cottage, North Vat is a two-storey home for a couple made up of three adjoining cabins, each with gabled profiles and dark-stained larch walls.

It is one of several architect-designed properties on the vast seaside landscape, including Simon Conder's Black Rubber Beach House, the Shingle House by NORD Architecture and Guy Hollaway's Pobble House.

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects

Rodić Davidson Architects wanted the building to reference Dungeness fishing huts and their bitumen-stained walls, but also to "break away from conventional layout and form".

Breaking the building up into three black-stained timber cabins was their way of achieving this.

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects

A large two-storey block contains the main living space and master bedroom, while the smaller huts contain a study and a second bedroom. All three are connected by a glazed entrance corridor, L-shaped in plan.

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects

"Our brief was to create a single living environment, allowing for entertainment, enjoyment and art," said Ben Davidson.

"This was to be a calm and simple space where everyday activities could co-exist and all aspects of the surrounding landscape could be observed."

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects

"Our piece celebrates the inherent beauty of simple, 'elemental' forms, and explores how these can create complex spaces and experiences within a cluster," added Siniša Rodić.



"All architectural clutter is removed in favour of creating this almost abstract composition," he said.

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects

Larch boards extend vertically across both the walls and roof to give the building a homogenous appearance. Rather than bitumen, which was traditionally used to waterproof cabins, a simple stain was applied to create the dark colour.

The same wood clads the interior of the study, but is left unfinished to reveal its natural tone.

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects

"The replacement cottage and sheds are clad in timber, thus continuing to form part of a larger-scale assembly of black timber structures found in Dungeness," said Rodić.

"Each timber is 80 millimetres wide, set out at 88 millimetre centres," added project architect William Adams. "All openings and junctions – windows, rooflights, and doors – have been meticulously set out on this 88-millimetre module."

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects

The main block has a more cleanly finished interior, with a concrete tile floor and white walls.

The first-floor bedroom is set back from one wall, creating a double-height space. Square skylights bring light into this area from overhead, and these match the frameless square windows that puncture the walls.

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects

A bronze sculpture sits in front of one of these windows, facing out to the north. These is also an east-facing terrace that allows residents to sit outside and view the ocean.

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects

Dungeness is the only place in Britain officially classified as a desert. It first attracted attention when the late artist Derek Jarman moved there, but is also an important nature reserve, home to over 600 different types of plant.

Photography is by Hélène Binet.

North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects
Site plan – click for larger image
North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects
First floor plan – click for larger image
North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects
Roof plan – click for larger image
North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects
Cross section one – click for larger image
North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects
Cross section two – click for larger image
North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects
Long section one – click for larger image
North Vat Dungeness by Rodic Davidson Architects
Long section two – click for larger image
  • Concerned Citizen

    What is this fetish with black or burned-timber structures?

    • Think

      It is very much part of the vernacular in Kent and Sussex.

    • Meme

      Burnt timber is also weather resistant.

  • Puzzled

    Has the project architect from Nord’s Shingle House joined Rodric Davidson?

  • Chris MacDonald

    Having seen another house on the same beach/street as this on Grand Designs, I can’t help but wonder why on earth anyone would choose to live in such a desolate, ugly place?

    I can understand wanting to be away from people, and having plenty of space in all directions… But this, with a nuclear power station on your doorstep? I find it absolutely bizarre that so much nice residential architecture is being built in such a place. The planning constraints are rather unusual too.

    • Fabio G Calzada

      Derek Jarman moved there somewhere in the early 90s, I think, to a very basic and cheap fisherman’s house. He loved the place, built a garden and wrote some wonderful books about the garden and Dungeness.

      Thames and Hudson did a beautiful book about the garden and this took off big time with London trendies, and lots of them came to Dungeness… No more cheap bungalows to be found since then but plenty of stylish houses. Having said this, nuclear plant or not, trendies or not, Dungeness is a beautiful place.

    • Donkey

      Beauty. Eye. Beholder.

    • dmiller

      I love it, and think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. Each to their own.

  • Sim

    I like it. Good floor plan as well and nothing too excessive. Very nicely made.

  • michael@bespokedesigns.co.uk

    Hmmm… They all look very nice and I am sure they are a real pleasure to live in. I was a big fan of Dungeness and looked at buying the old circular lifeboat house back in the 90s.

    However, when standing outside admiring the vast open space and seascape I was constantly aware of the hum from the nuclear power station and, as dramatic as it looked when lit up at night, it was a real eyesore in the day; even by facing the other direction with your eyes closed you knew exactly where it was.

    Also, couldn’t ignore the thought of industrial commercial corporate types having any morals and being too worried about the long-term side effects from living so close to an ageing nuclear plant. So nothing to detract from the buildings design wise, but you need to spend some time there before you can make a conclusive decision about their location and perhaps check for any exclusions in your life insurance policy!

  • Jerry Kott

    Beauty is in the detail. There is a difference between minimal and empty. From my point of view, this is minimal and the minimal landscape enhances the sense of space. Mother Nature presents herself in many ways and each has its own harmony. This is my dream home.

  • e17jack

    It’s a very pleasing form, but why are there hardly any pictures of the interior?

  • dmiller

    I feel sad that Dungeness is now full of self consciously good architecture, rather than the very nice wooden fisherman’s houses that used to be there.

    I don’t really mind the fact that it’s full of London trendies rather than fishermen because that would be snobbish and hypocritical. It’s true that it was nicer when it was full of people working on their boats and smoking fish in the shed but it’s just one of those things that it’s not like that now.

    But I wish they had kept the houses looking the same.

    • Guest

      Don’t worry, London trendies will get fed up with living there. Spots like this, open to the elements, eventually lose their special appeal.

      • Not a London trendy

        I don’t agree. Having stayed at Nord’s shingle house it’s clear that they made a house that’s completely at one with the place in a way that only great architecture can.

        That scheme is there to stay and offers something completely different from what Derek Jarman and the original inhabitants did. And lets not imagine that Dungeness belongs to anyone. The artists that live there are just as alien as those that have only recently discovered it. It’s a special place. Nord made a great building using that context. The Rodić Davidson crowd have shamelessly ripped that off.