architect: Heatherwick Studio
location: Littlehampton, UK
Heatherwick Studio was commissioned to design a café building to replace a seafront 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, twodimensional 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. 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. A kiosk and cafeteria by day and a restaurant in the evening, the new café seats sixty.
Thomas Heatherwick founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994 to make unique design projects happen. Today his team of architects, designers and makers work from a combined studio and workshop in King’s Cross on projects ranging from bridges and buildings to products and large scale works of public art. The studio’s work includes the Rolling Bridge in Paddington, London, a pedestrian footbridge that opens by rolling into a ball; La Maison Unique – the world flagship store for luxury French brand, Longchamp and East Beach Café – a seafront restaurant in Littlehampton on the South Coast of England. Current projects include a monastic building in Sussex and the British Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo in 2010. Thomas is an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA and a Senior Fellow at the Royal College of Art. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from three British universities, Sheffield Hallam, Dundee and Manchester Metropolitan. He has won the Prince Philip Designers Prize and in 2004, was the youngest practitioner to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry. He has served on numerous judging and advisory panels and has given lectures, tutorials and talks at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and Yale University. Thomas lives and works in King’s Cross, London.