Famous for its wild and desolate landscape, Dungeness in Kent is also home to a unique collection of houses. Dominic Bradbury takes us on tour
Shingle House, an innovative new build, is the first architect-designed rental property in Dungeness (for details visit living-architecture.co.uk). Its mezzanine lounge offers a sublime vantage point, with the large window framing views across the beach to the sea. The armchair is by pinchdesign.com
Dungeness is little more than a coastal hamlet, but many of its buildings and structures are steeped in history, character, originality and invention. Some are family fishing cottages that have grown and evolved over the years, while others date back to the 1920s when South Eastern Railway staff were offered redundant railway carriages at knockdown prices, as well as a small bundle of shingles on which to put them.
Over the past few years, a number of these existing buildings, such as Beach Cottage (see reverse), have been updated to create homes that are better able to withstand the elements. There have also been conversions of other non-residential buildings, including coast guard stations and war structures used to test navigation systems.
There have also been rare opportunities to build modern houses, such as Shingle House (see right). Given the tight controls on new buildings here, these have tended to replace abandoned structures. Even then, the resulting designs echo those older buildings and reference the coastline that shaped their personality.
- This is an edited excerpt from Dungeness Coastal Architecture By Dominic Bradbury, out May 5 from HarperCollins, price £25. To order a copy for £21.25 with free shipping until May 10, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937
This bedroom from Shingle House is clad in white painted wood paneling against the warmth of a rich and durable Purpleheart wood floor, perfect for weathering the elements. For a similar wall light, try gardentrading.co.uk. For a similar throw, try heals.com
In the dining room, carefully positioned windows frame key views of the landscape while maintaining the privacy of Shingle House. Dining chairs are from jaspermorrison.com. The pendant lights are from artek.fi
Built in 1910 by a local fishing family, Beach Cottage has been updated to open up space without changing its original plan. Its back porch has glass walls that frame inland views, as well as AstroTurf flooring that blurs the line between indoors and out. For a similar ottoman, try sohohome.com
Beach Cottage’s combined kitchen and dining area has been warmed up with the addition of plywood panels for walls and ceilings. Try 1stdibs.com for similar vintage dining chairs and originalbtc.com for similar pendant lights
The exterior of Beach Cottage has been clad in cement board similar to its original cladding. The red bench and the giant robin at the top of the exterior staircase form a bold contrast. For a similar bench try madeindesign.co.uk
The Dungeness beach landscape is an inspiration in itself, with the derelict boats having a powerful sculptural presence
Shop the look
Channel the modern coastal vibe with an understated palette, wood and textured accessories
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Cushion, £90, goodhoodstore.com, throw, £25, saitsburys.co.uk and plate, £24, libertylondon.com
Vase, £45, selfridges.com, vase, £48, neptune.com and serving bowl, £9, nordicnest.com
Rug (150cm x 245cm), £460, bombinate.com, coffee table, £449, westelm.co.uk and shelf, £1,795, sohohome.com
Sofa, £2,595, oka.com and chair, £798, anthropologie.com
Pendant, £285, heals.com, floor lamp, £775, nest.co.uk and vase, £30, toa.st
Cushion, £97, smallable.com and side table, £139.99, hm.com