Flotsam and Jetsam

A Café for Silecroft Beach, Cumbria

Vegetation, rocks, shingle, sand, water, fish, mammals, birds and people, where land meets sea. Thresholds defined by comings together of lives and things, all moving at different speeds, sometimes wildly different, some with local and others with global reach.

The seemingly permanent together with the fleeting. Locals and visitors. Some from nearby, others from afar. New beginnings and passings on. First times, repeat visits, and never come-agains. Different ages. Unique biographies, in coming together, to make the here-and-now.

This design uses a unique, affordable and sustainable method of construction: employing used sea containers, remodelled to create a café: as structure, enclosure and accommodation sat upon a local stone, allowing for an extremely simple, cost effective and robust, even expendable building which is inherently suited to its marine location.

Recycled intermodal containers and stone ballast. Local stone. Sustainable timber. Modern glazing, solar panels, services, fittings and furniture. Building as the process by which materials are gathered and made new; some with past lives reused, others starting out fresh; woven together and into the existing tapestry of a site always on-the-move.

Processes of design, construction, inhabitation and future adaption that won’t seek to emulate or ape what exists, but use the same approach that gave rise to local vernacular forms: gathering of locally and nationally available material, bringing it together in making and using state-of-the art accommodation.

So, through recycling a ubiquitous transport box, sat upon a base of stone ballast recycled from the railways, itself held by a local stone base, and fitting it out with the most up-to-date sustainable technology, our café describes a vernacular of reinvention, re-use and modernity. This vernacular, in spirit and in deed, is very much of today whilst remaining true to the construction / utility practice inherent in the rural buildings of Cumbria along this coast, opened up to the world by C19 railway infrastructure and C20 roads.

Service: Design Competition

Location: Silecroft, Cumbria, UK

Client: Copeland Borough Council

Cost: £ 380K

Areas: GFA 160 m2

Dates: December 2019

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