Kebony stands the test of time – three years on at Camber Sands

Architecture firm WAMdesign was commissioned by a private client to build two beach houses right on the seafront at Camber Sands, East Sussex. Positioned next to the county’s only sand dunes, on the site of an old bungalow, the beach houses are an ideal summer bolthole offering spectacular views of the sea and unparalleled access to the beach.

This project was designed to have minimum impact on the environment, which led to the architects specifying a selection of recycled and sustainable materials throughout the build. In addition a hardwearing material which did not compromise on beauty was required for the exterior of the beach houses as they would be subjected to harsh weather conditions all year round. Further, the architects wanted to create a seamless continuity in the building’s structure to complement the interior wooden beams and allow the buildings to blend with its beautiful surroundings. As such Kebony, a beautiful wood recommended by leading architects, was the obvious choice for the cladding as it is both environmentally friendly and resistant to wear and weathering and is visually complementary of its seaside location.

The contemporary homes were completed in 2014 and three years on Kebony has undoubtedly proven itself as a material capable of standing the test of time. The Kebony wood has now developed its characteristic beautiful silver-grey patina, which develops after exposure to the elements whilst maintaining the woods remarkable performance characteristics. Now more than ever, the Camber Sands beach houses echo the natural colour and smoothness of the dunes creating

Developed in Norway, the patented Kebony technology uses an environmentally friendly process which permanently enhances the properties of sustainable softwood with a bio-based liquid derived from agricultural crop waste. By polymerising the wood’s cell walls, the wood gains greatly improved durability and dimensional stability, giving it characteristics similar to those of tropical hardwood. The result is a strengthened and stabilised wood with comparable, and often superior, attributes to tropical hardwood. It is also visually striking, strong and resistant to biological decay with a long lifecycle and outdoor life time warranty of thirty years. The wood provides a sustainable option for using timber in construction and Kebony only uses raw materials from FSC®-certified, sustainably managed forests, and carries the Nordic ecolabel called “Swan”, it is also completely safe and toxin-free.

The number of challenges created by the location of the Camber Sands Beach Houses became apparent during construction and was a good indicator of the forces that the buildings would be exposed to in their future. The first obstacle presented itself when the constructors had to create makeshift pathways through the sand in order to transport the materials to the site without the existence of roads. Secondly, the site was battered by the severe storms and tidal surges that hit the country during the winter of 2013/14 with gales sweeping the beach and blasting the buildings with sand as they began to take form. Consequently, the huts have been built with floating foundations and stainless steel frame providing the requisite resilience and ability to fend off the elements in their exposed position on the coast, providing ample protection for their owners to enjoy the calm, warm summer days.

Architects Walker & Martin commented: “We have been thoroughly impressed with the quality and durability of the Kebony wood and are absolutely thrilled with the end result. It was a long (cold and windy) process to get this project to completion and we are very proud of the achievement by all!”

Adrian Pye from Kebony added: “The beach houses look fantastic and are perfectly in-keeping with their surroundings, the Kebony wood has now developed its beautiful silver-grey patina and blends perfectly into its natural surroundings. It has been a wonderful experience to watch this project adapt since its completion. We can’t wait to come back in 2020 and see how it looks another three years on.

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