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Winners in Eastbourne beach huts contest revealed

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Eastbourne Borough Council has announced the four winning proposals in its competition for a series of £10,000 ‘bold and imaginative’ beach huts

Dublin-based SFA Architects, Calder Peel FGP Architects of Surrey, and London firms Jak Studio and George King Architects have all been chosen for the seafront commissions.

The winners were selected from an eight-strong shortlist which included Bissett Adams and ZAP Architecture.

The winners

  • SFA Architects: What Unearthed?
  • Jak Studio: Spyglass
  • George King Architects: Star Gazers’ Hut
  • Calder Peel FGP Architects: Eastbourne Reborn

Planned to complete in December 2016, the project will deliver four ‘bold and imaginative’ beach huts east of the coastal town’s historic pier which partially burnt down in 2014.

Project manager Christine Harmar Brown said: ‘The judging process of the competitions has been exciting and a challenging due to the sheer quality of submissions.

‘All of those on the list came up with fantastic designs but in the end the winners possessed a mixture of innovation, fine aesthetics and practical function that made them stand out.

‘They are worthy winners and will have a hugely beneficial effect on the Devonshire Ward of Eastbourne.’

Sheila Hay with students from Sussex Downs College was meanwhile chosen over a group entry from Age Concern to win a separate community-only category.

The full shortlist

  • Bissett Adams: Pipe Dreams
  • ZAP Architecture: The Observatory
  • SFA Architects: What Unearthed?
  • Jak Studio: Spyglass
  • Alpa Depani and James Marrinan: The Shingle Hut
  • Periscope: The Driftwood Hut
  • George King Architects: Star Gazers’ Hut
  • Calder Peel FGP Architects: Eastbourne Reborn

The East Sussex settlement is currently home to around 87 huts and 69 chalets spread across six locations west of the pier.

The new structures are part of a new cycle route connecting Eastbourne’s Towner Art Gallery with the Grade I-listed Art Deco De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and HAT Projects’ £4 million Jerwood Gallery in Hastings.

Judges included sculptor Alex Chinneck (interview below) and the council’s head of tourism Annie Wills.


Alex Chinneck, artist and competition judge

Aartist and competition judge

Aartist and competition judge

Alex Chinneck

Why are competitions like this important for emerging designers and architects?

There are far more artists, designers and architects than there are opportunities so it’s important to explore every possible avenue, which includes competitions, to build your practise and broaden your portfolio. Competitions can be time-consuming, costly and frustrating processes but they do bring new ideas to the surface and encourage different creative responses to unique contexts and briefs. My studio enters competitions regularly and even when we aren’t successful, which is more often than I’d like, we are still left with new ideas and supporting visuals. Any process that forces a process of alternative and imaginative thinking is ultimately a creatively valuable one.

What impact can smalls scale installations like these have on regeneration?
I don’t think that cultural activity needs to be monumental to create or continue a cultural energy. Any installation, large or small, can motivate a person or place providing it is accessible and unique. Generic art, design or architecture is a wasted opportunity for positive change.

Should other coastal towns consider similar design contests?
I think there is a social and economic argument for coastal towns to invest in cultural strategy, which of course includes the encouragement of contemporary design. Changing patterns of British holiday makers over the past 20 years have unquestionably had a negative impact on the seaside industries of the towns they once visited and these areas must explore new ways of generating footfall, trade and a sense of optimism. The Jerwood in Hastings, Banksy’s Dismaland in Weston-super-Mare and the entire cultural programme within Margate, which includes Turner Contemporary, Dreamlands and Margate Arts Creativity Heritage demonstrate the uplifting impact that art, design and architecture can have upon a place.

What is your favourite beach structure anywhere in the world?
I often visit the Acoustic Mirrors in Denge, beside Dungeness. They are beautifully brutal monumental concrete listening instruments that were built in the twenties and thirties to detect incoming enemy aircraft across the English Channel. These aren’t technically ‘beach structures’ but they were designed and positioned in response to the sea. I have a soft-spot for curling concrete and adore this family of peculiar structures.

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