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Sandcastles: Beach huts by Pedder & Scampton

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Natural, sustainable, easy on the eye: no wonder Pedder & Scampton used the beach itself in these Essex huts

It was December last year when Pedder & Scampton beat more than 40 other firms to land first prize in Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s beach hut competition. The brief had called for an ‘interesting and innovative’ scheme for 15 new units on East Beach at Shoeburyness. The Islington-based practice’s design stood out: as well as sea air-friendly green roofs, Pedder & Scampton subverted the perennial seaside favourite’s narrow, deep form with a shallow, wide plan. This week, the first phase of huts – eight of them – is being installed on site on an existing concrete base.

The beach hut’s main components have been prefabricated to allow for speedy construction. Each unit’s walls are formed from recycled timber pallets bolted into timber frames and faced with translucent polycarbonate sheeting outside and plywood inside. These will be bolted into place on site and then infilled with pebbles, gravel, glass chippings, shells and other recycled materials. The infill will be laid in ‘drift layers’ visible through the plastic, which, the architect says, provides ‘thermal mass, privacy and security’. The top sections of the walls, however, will not be filled, in order to allow daylight into the hut interior, which in turn can be painted or fitted out by tenants.

Each hut has a monopitch roof, but together they form an undulating profile that can be seen from the paths behind the site. Entrances are angled slightly to face south and the huts have asymmetrical plans, with generous seating space at the front and narrower working and storage space at the rear. 

At the time of the practice win, Gill Scampton said: ‘We took the defining characteristics of beach huts to be a strong rhythm and profile, a sense of variety and individuality within the overall pattern, a robust and simple form, and the creation of an intimate space within a big landscape.’

All being well, they should be ready by the end of the month – and the last few days of summer.

Project data

Start on site August 2013
Gross internal area 72m, (eight beach huts of 9m each)
Form of contract Minor works contract secured via competition
Project cost £100,000
Client Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Architect Pedder & Scampton
Structural engineer StructureMode, Geoff Morrow and Ed Hollis
Quantity surveyor MPA Construction Consultants
Main contractor Carmelcrest
CDM coordinator SBC

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