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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

East Beach Café in Littlehampton, UK by Heatherwick Studio

June 4th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Heatherwick Studio

Heatherwick Studio was commissioned to design a new café building, capable of seating 60 people; to replace a seafront ice cream kiosk in Littlehampton, a traditional seaside town on England’s south coast. Exposed to weather and vandalism, the narrow site sits between the sea and a parade of houses. The studio saw its challenge as being to produce a long, thin building without flat, two-dimensional façades. The building is sliced diagonally into ribbons which wrap up and over the building, forming a layered protective shell, open to the sea in front.

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Andy Stagg)

  • Architect: Heatherwick Studio
  • Name of Project: East Beach Café
  • Location: Littlehampton, West Sussex, UK
  • Function: Café, kiosk, and restaurant
  • Building Area: 280m²
  • Building Dimensions: H x 5m, L x 40m, W x 7m
  • Total Floor Area: 205m²
  • Photographer: Andy Stagg

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Andy Stagg)

  • Seats: 45 internal, 80 external
  • Exterior Structure: 8 mm Mild Steel treated with Owatrol Oil
  • Weight of Steel: 34t
  • No. of Steel Ribbons: 36
  • Width of Ribbon: 30cm
  • Completion: July 2007

Side View (Images Courtesy Andy Stagg)

The shell of the building provides both its skin and structure. It has a steel outer layer which has been allowed to weather before being fixed. Customers can dine both inside and out. The 60 seat dining room has an extensively glazed frontage to give views of the sea, with over-sailing eaves providing shade from the sun. Rather than use a traditional structural method in which one part rests on another, the primary structure of the building is a ‘monocoque’ steel shell in which all parts act together, similar to the hull of a ship.

The opening is filled with glass doors and windows, protected at night by roller shutters concealed within the building’s geometry, the 30 ­centimetre width of the ribbons being the dimension of a shutter mechanism. In contrast to the conventional white-washed seaside aesthetic, the building is raw and weathered, its structural steel shell finished with an oil-based coating that permits a rust-like patination to develop without affecting structural performance.

The East Beach Cafe is destined to become a beacon for tourists to Littlehampton and no doubt marks the beginning of a renaissance in this quiet seaside town.  The Cafe opened in June 2007.

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Category: Cafe

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