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Kast Architects’ debut project is perched on a Cornish cliff

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The Cornish practice’s first commission, a coastal home, exploits topography to frame sea views

Balanced high on a cliff in south Cornwall, this new home offers an uninterrupted panorama of the horizon, picking up Rame Head to the east and Looe and St George’s Island to the west. The design maximises the views out to sea by using the site’s existing topography to full effect.

The main living accommodation is on the upper floor, where the spectacular views can be enjoyed from the lounge, dining room and kitchen. Three ensuite bedrooms are located on the lower floor, each with direct access to a southerly facing terrace. The elevations are a careful composition of solid and void, pairing render with cedar cladding to create a layering of the façade to help frame views, while also managing potential heat gains in the summer months.

A suspended external staircase provides an easy link to the garden spaces from the upper-floor balcony. The architecture of the home allows the client to realise their dream of modern coastal living, with a close interaction with the vast and ever-changing ocean. 

The project replaces a tired and rundown two-storey house that was previously on the site. The client bought the plot for its wonderful views, which the previous house was not making the most of. The surrounding context is of individual properties in a variety of styles, all sitting centrally on their plots with space around them allowing views of the sea from the coastal road. Sea Edge continues in this vein, ensuring that the new building’s footprint was as close to the original as possible. Meanwhile the roof profile is kept low to maintain the outlook for properties further inland. The house is constructed using a highly insulated timber frame, with some additional steelwork to help achieve some of the more dramatic cantilevers.

The efficient thermal envelope, coupled with good levels of airtightness, results in a house that is cheap to run, with an air-source heat pump feeding the underfloor heating and photovoltaic panels helping to offset any electrical demands. A sedum roof slows down water run off, while providing a microclimate for insects and bird life, as well as providing a more pleasant ‘elevation’ to those properties behind. Construction of the building was challenging, due to the tight nature of the site and access via a Cornish coastal road. The project was Kast Architects’ first commission as a new architectural practice.

Sea edge external beach view 2 agp

Sea edge external beach view 2 agp

Source: Antony Greenwood Photography

Client’s view

We purchased Sea Edge on account of its south-facing position and stunning sea views. It soon became apparent that the existing small dwelling could not be modernised to capture the potential demanded by this site. We were fortunate to be introduced to Kast Architects as it began its new architectural practice in Cornwall. The firm immediately had the vision to sketch an outline plan which captured both the view and our desire for a modern open-plan design, which could be used practically both as a holiday home and later as a retirement home. We also wanted a low-maintenance home with low-energy features to lower utility costs and reduce its carbon footprint. The final home is almost identical to the initial concept sketched on the back of an envelope. The end product speaks for itself and is a credit to all those involved, but especially to the team at Kast. We have been fortunate to have worked with them. 

Sea edge upper floor plan

Sea edge upper floor plan

Upper floor plan

Project data

Start on site January 2016
Completion February 2017
Gross internal floor area 227m²
Form of contract or procurement route Management contracting
Construction cost £550,000 including demolition of existing building
Construction cost per m² £2,423
Architect Kast Architects: Nicholas James, Adam Collier, David Jones, Jakob Benjamin
Client Confidential
Structural engineer Entos Consulting
Interior designer 3idog
Landscape architect Sam Ovens Landscapes
CDM coordinator Kast Architects
Approved building inspector JHAI
Main contractor Fox Construction Solutions
CAD software used Vectorworks
Annual CO2 emissions 11.78kg/m² (estimated, as per as built SAP)

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Many long established practices would relish a commission such as this. To say it's the team's first commission says much about them. They deserve success and I'm sure will assist the elevation of reputation of the profession in the marketplace.

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  • very nice

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