A pair of timber- and masonry-clad beach houses in East Sussex by RX Architects draws inspiration from the local vernacular


Richard Chivers

Designed by RX Architects, The Line comprises a pair of new-build, three-storey detached houses located on the sea front at Winchelsea Beach in East Sussex. The dwellings are respectively named Mavericks and Cloudbreak, after well-known surf spots in California and Fiji. Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Winchelsea Beach attracts a wide range of migrating birds and provides views across the local nature reserve to Dungeness and beyond. The site is situated adjacent to silted-up medieval harbour and was subject to extensive archeological work during the construction process.

Ground, first and second-floor plans

The living accommodation is located on the top floor to maximise views out across the beach. Full-height sliding glass doors lead out onto a large terrace overlooking the sea. The bespoke kitchens and built in joinery are hand made by a local company, as are the staircases, which employ a combination of powder-coated cut steel strings and cantilevered treads to create an open, lightweight aesthetic. High levels of insulation and airtightness reduce running costs for the occupants.


The structures employ braced steel frames to resist the extreme wind and weather loadings from the open sea frontage. Grey fair-faced brickwork is combined with charred larch cladding externally. “Black cladding is very common along this particular stretch of coastline, with the fishing huts at Hastings, and fisherman’s cottages in Dungeness all predominately being black clad”, explains project director Pierre Devlin. “The choice of charred cladding was carefully considered so that the appearance is almost black but the natural wood grain becomes proud and visible. It also results in a very durable surface, which requires minimal long term maintenance in the harsh environment.”

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