On Valentine’s Day 2014, a severe storm destroyed the 1960s beach huts at Milford-on-Sea. Following their destruction, the council, with strong support from the parish and beach hut owners, sought an architect’s practice to design their replacement.
The new huts have been designed to enhance the seafront, resist the challenging coastal conditions and withstand a 1:200-year storm event. The beach huts have been set back into the upper promenade allowing easier movement for the public and beach hut owners along the lower promenade. The requirement for an additional structure to withstand extreme storm events has also given rise to the opportunity to elevate the public realm onto and over the beach huts. This raised promenade enjoys uninterrupted views across the Solent and along the coast.
The strong and seemingly infinite panoramic views are echoed in the design of the beach huts, a solid linear datum that junctioned land to sky.
Galvanized steel panels have been used to mark this transition and to emphasise the horizontal. Galvanizing was chosen as a finish for its durability on a coastal location, its subtle reflective quality in reflecting the evening light and its texture.
To enhance disabled access to the lower promenade, a new cranked galvanized ramp has been provided on the western end of the beach. The ramped bridge has been designed to wrap around the historic pill box and over the waves and rocks below. To further enhance the experience and withstand upward wave loads, the bridge deck and balustrade are made from perforated galvanized metal. This allows users a view down to the waves below, while the solid sides of the balustrade act as an echo chamber for the sounds of the rumbling waves.
Images © Martin Gardner