North Vat replaces an existing fisherman’s cottage in Dungeness’s unique shingle landscape. The house was conceived as a ‘cluster’ of small shed-like structures, referential to the local vernacular of pitched roof huts scattered along the beach front. At the heart of the scheme were enthusiastic clients seeking to break away from conventional layout and form.
The plan form of the proposed cluster was derived from the locations of the existing cottage and sheds, minimally adjusted to provide a simple living layout whilst maintaining a low impact on the ground ecology and sustaining the sense of randomness that we found in the original buildings.
Each of the three rooms stands as a separate physical structure linked to the others by frameless glazing. This allows an uninterrupted flow of internal spaces without diminishing the character of the original cluster. Walking in and out of the rooms feels like walking in and out of the landscape.
Windows and roof lights are arranged around moments of pause within the plan, bringing in elements of the landscape and tracking the movement of sunlight which radically transforms internal spaces throughout the day. At night, the black clad building disappears and its presence is revealed by these frames of interior life.
As existing, the replacement cottage and sheds are clad in timber thus continuing to form part of a larger scale assembly of black timber structures found in Dungeness. Our piece celebrates the inherent beauty of simple, ‘elemental’ forms and explores how these can create complex spaces and experiences within a cluster. All architectural clutter is removed in favour of creating this almost abstract composition.