The Listening Station

Beech Architects Limited, Southwold, 2019


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Anne Jones/ Beech Architects     Download Original

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Two holiday homes in Southwold, Suffolk.

These new-build holiday homes have panoramic views across the North Sea from a fast-eroding cliff top.

The design creates two gabled fully portable buildings costing £80,000 each that mimic the original dual gables of the Royal Navy building they replace. They sit low with a horizontal emphasis within the flat landscape. The monolithic appearance was deliberate to avoid detail and mimic simple agricultural building forms and the cedar shingles are used to soften and weather, to blend the buildings into the natural landscape.

The natural wood weathers to a silver grey seen in sky and sea of this location. The buildings have large windows to this windswept landscape so as to place the occupier right within this coastal area of outstanding natural beauty. The design is very low maintenance. No gutters or downpipes, no decorating externally, no mortar or cement to crack.

The steel frame supports a timber shell with crane points built in at either end. This allows relocation when necessary as the coast retreats and thus reacts to coastal change. The width and length is designed to suit an articulated lorry, allowing for simplicity in moving.

The foundations were designed as minimal pads on a grid. This innovative approach to design and usage allows for a redevelopment in a location that otherwise would not be allowed due to coastal change as well as minimal impact in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

All services such as sewage treatment are placed 100m away inland to allow for this coastal retreat. The building is entirely recyclable with aluminium and wood windows, steel and timber frame and is plaster free. The building is wrapped in a thick insulation and with low U value windows it minimises heating costs.


  • Begun: Apr 2018
  • Completed: Aug 2019
  • Floor area: 102m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £160,000
  • Funding: Private client
  • Tender date: Mar 2018
  • Procurement: Self Build
  • CO2 Emissions: 1632kg/m2/year
  • Address: RN Building, Easton Lane, Easton Bavents, Southwold, IP18 6ST, United Kingdom

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