Picture the scene; it is the middle of a dank and dreary winter, the wind bites at your skin, Jack Frost is nipping at your nose and you might – just might – make it home before a torrential downpour can finish up what has been a questionably ‘fresh’ dog walk along the coastline, because Fido had to have his walk.
What if you didn’t have to bypass all of these boarded up summer-only kiosks that have gone into hibernation for the winter months? What if there had been a cosy little retreat at the end of your walk giving you the chance to warm up with a welcoming hot drink by the wood burning stove, all the while taking in our beautiful, under-utilised coastline?
We aren’t talking a two storey, high-tech, ultra-modern installation that offers three course meals, an array of beverages and the opportunity to lounge and dine out on the roof. We are suggesting a series of small, intimate coastal kiosks, designed to promote short social interactions between weekend walkers, runners, cyclists, dog walkers (to name a few), in both the summer and winter months.
Where We Started
It started with Director Gary visiting the in-laws in the Netherlands and enjoying a hot coffee in a beach kiosk during the winter months. He started wondering why we were not making more use of our kiosks during the winter months back home. Back in the office, we asked ourselves a couple of fundamental questions; what would need to change for us to use the kiosks all year round, and what do we already love about them at the moment? We set ourselves the fun task to re-design them in such a way that they could be used all year round but retain their charm.
The main appeal for the guys and girls in our office was the ability to walk up to a service hatch, purchase, and walk away again. We don’t have to concern ourselves with covering up for a restaurant environment – our current kiosks embody the laid back attitude that comes with living in a coastal community.
At our core, we are lovers of buildings and design, but that doesn’t mean we have to go big all the time. The beauty of our current beach kiosks is their size; they don’t aim to be the biggest or the snazziest (yes, we said it) hut on the block, and this is the attitude we wanted to carry into this project when we began designing. Ask any Guernsey-man and they will agree that the last thing they want is their coastline being disrupted.
Counting avid all weather walkers / cyclists among our staff, we recognised the importance of having somewhere to shelter when the weather gets too much, or when you need a pick me up during your outing but you are still too far away from your end point to keep going, so our goal was to create a cosy, welcome retreat.
Given the varying terrain and plot size, it was impossible to work up a ‘one size fits all’ solution, so we focused on one beach in particular – Grandes Rocques. Arguably one of the more popular beaches in the height of summer, this kiosk is perfectly placed for those enjoying fine-weather strolls to stop off for a drink and a light bite to eat. Unfortunately, during the winter months it has no choice but to board up and shut down for months on end.
That is where we come in. We propose a series of glorified beach huts which reach out to the needs of the winter weather walkers. We like to think of them as little bolt holes dotted in convenient locations around our 35km of coastline – a short-term sanctuary, if you wish. We have kept the design minimal and unobtrusive; a flat roof for minimal disruption to the sea views, reclaimed hard wood cladding for our carbon footprint, small intimate seating arrangements for c. 15 covers and perhaps a wood burning stove to huddle around on a cold day. Whilst the footprint of the design has been adapted to the Grandes Rocques plot for the purpose of this article, these kiosks have the potential to be rolled out universally over a number of other locations with similar use of materials, signage and design features.
With around fourteen coastal kiosks currently located on the island, we aren’t proposing a complete overhaul but rather suggesting that there is need to only replace a select few at convenient, intermittent locations. Think of the proposed kiosks as charging stations for your batteries; we not only want to provide shelter for those already using the coastal paths and walks for their hobbies or past times, we also want to encourage those who currently stay away from them because of lack of suitable amenities in the winter.
During the summer months we aim to retain the charm of the ‘service hatch experience’ as previously described, with a hole in the wall for all the refreshments you would expect on a hot summers day. Having experienced our Guernsey summers and knowing full well that sometimes a sunny day comes with a gale force wind and occasional showers (yet still we insist on making it a beach day!) we propose an overhang of the flat roof to provide a little extra protection from the elements when queueing for that ice cream.
We believe we could make our under utilised coastline more attractive by converting a number of our kiosks to all-weather amenities, whilst staying true to their charming and somewhat quirky roots.
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