Living on the Edge
A CLIFFTOP HOUSE ON THE DRAMATIC DEVON COAST
A TRANSPORTABLE FAMILY HOME WHICH EXPLOITS THE STUNNING SEA VIEWS AND CAN BE RELOCATED AS THE CLIFF SLOWLY ERODES.
Britain’s coastline is longer than India’s and more than 15 million citizens live by the sea. Increasing sea level rise and more storms will drive more erosion and it is predicted that almost 7,000 homes in England and Wales are expected to fall into the sea in coming decades as coasts erode.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, scientists have recorded a 19cm rise in mean sea level; by the end of the current century, it will be between 52cm and 98cm higher, according to cautious predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This experimental low energy home was commissioned as a replicable solution to the significant problem of coastal erosion. The new single storey dwelling is built on a movable platform, which allows it to be repositioned as the unstable coastline slowly crumbles away. This approach enables the house to be located close to the edge of the cliff and to benefit from the stunning views of the surrounding coastline.
The design of the house is influenced by the Case Study House programme that was so influential in inspiring a generation of architects after the second world war in America. Many of these beautiful homes were lightweight, steel framed, single storey buildings which crouched low in the landscape, responded to the warm climate of California and promoted outdoor living.
The house is also designed to comply with the UK definition of a mobile home which means it can be relocated to any other sites where temporary accommodation is permitted. The construction builds on prefabrication methods developed for a previous project and will be manufactured off-site using cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels.
The house is fabricated in four separate sections. The living/dining, kitchen, sleeping and bathroom/storage areas are assembled to create two larger 10m x 6.7m modules which can be hoisted into place using a crane and bolted together. This reduces construction time and allows the home to be lifted, transported to another location in the future. The installation and construction period for the house is just ten weeks.
Internally, exposed spruce timber floors and walls echo the feel and cosiness of simple seaside hut or holiday cottage and are finished with a natural chalk paint that exposes the wood’s grain. The fully glazed facade faces south and is designed to maximise the wonderful coastal views and solar gain.
The off-site prefabrication and high-quality construction ensure that the house is very energy efficient with a 75% reduction in annual fuel bills over a new-build home of a similar size built to current building regulation standards.