Southern North Sea Coastline of UK and Mainland Europe
The beach front of the 21st century needs to be developed in ways that can be reproduced in different European contexts. On the other hand the beachfront also needs to generate a very personal impression and create a diverse environment that suits the specific demands of the site. The beach front is also ruled by general interests such as safety, all year access, marine ecologies, sea states and weather.
We propose the concept of a suitcase to represent a mobile, self-contained and self-sufficient organism that can be placed and replaced. This circular metabolism is self evident in the concept as it provides energy through a windmill, filters water and deals with its own waste. It can float on the water and lie down on the sand. It is both variable and constant. It creates its own genius loci.
The beachfront is brought to the beach by boat. It consists of the big box and its satellites, stored up in the big box like traveling tools in a suitcase. Once nestled on the beach, the big box opens up and the satellite pavilions are placed in position on the beach. This position depends upon the geometry of the place and the specific theme of the beachfront. Such a system relies upon the functional nature of the satellites and touches the ground lightly. The beachfront will adapt accordingly to the nature of the artifice and evolve from functional suitcase to genius loci.
Closed, the big box provides shelter and protection against the elements. Open, it becomes an ephemeral experience, a place. It nestles in the landscape of sea and dunes in differing ways.The big box contains the particular program of the suitcase: it creates public space for culture, children’s animations, fish restaurants or fashionable boutiques…. The big box provides the identity of each beach front experience. It could be considered as a chameleon: it takes the colour and shape of its theme and surroundings. The big box is variable in its architecture and constant in its movement.
The satellite pavilions contain the general program of the suitcase: utility services as lifeguards/WCs/showers, educational/cultural facilities, gastronomical facilities, private cabins for families to rent etc. They can also contain facilities for enhancing the experience of a particular location: bike hire, telescopes for star-gazing. The pavilions are small scale and tangible.
During the different seasons the system adapts to its environment. In winter the big box can be a closed environment offering protection against the wind, in summer it can be an open floor offering a symbolic roof to a public place. When the water is high the big box will be floating on the sea and when the water is low an artificial lake will be created around it or within it – offering swimming opportunities.
In times of inclement weather the satellite pavilions can be stored in the big box quickly and efficiently. The suitcase closes and takes to the sea to travel to a safe port. Nothing on the beach reveals the past presence of a beachfront.