Seascape, Spring 2011
At the beginning of 2011, I was commissioned by writing agency, Stranger Collective, to write an article for Seascape magazine about a new development of apartments in Cornwall.
Great design has long been about balancing form, function and cost, but when sustainability gets added into the mix, many projects teeter and fall. Not so The Village, where everything stacks up nicely…
Take a leisurely meander around the buildings that line the sands of Watergate Bay and you’ll encounter all the usual British beach resort elements, albeit at a cut above your average; slick hotel, premium surf school, famous restaurant. However, a short – probably barefoot – stroll from the beach and you’ll end up somewhere else entirely. Breaking new ground in property design, eco-thinking and frontline style, The Village is the latest development from The Watergate Bay group, managing to feel a world apart from typical beach accommodation, and at the same time close to home.
Overlooking the two-mile stretch of sea, sand and surf, these four, soon to be eight and eventually 29, eco-chic apartments nestle into Watergate’s towering cliffs. Their sensitive and contextual design gives them the look of cutting-edge architecture and yet somehow the feeling of always having been there. The clean lines of their front aspects balance the organic curve of their roofs, while the simple white rendering and use of glass grounds the natural sedum roof and exterior wood cladding.
And it seems transitions between the natural and the manmade have been kept in mind at every level. The apartments have been designed for life by the beach, and so before you even venture inside, there are hot and cold outdoor showers for rinsing sandy feet and salty bodies, as well as surfboard racks and wetsuit hanging rails.
Once inside, locally sourced materials continue underfoot with flooring made from oak, slate and sisal boucle. In fact, the natural touch extends to everything you can see and sense, from the rough-hewn stone fireplace to the soft linens.
As a light-filled, open-plan space with floor to ceiling windows, the property has clearly been designed to maximise the stunning views; using an upside down layout and even providing bedroom terraces. Comfort is clearly core too, if the freestanding luxury bath and walk-in en suite showers are anything to go by.
However, life in The Village isn’t just about beachside luxury. Although the apartments all look beautiful, every design element has been introduced with the environment firmly on the building agenda. “A great coastal living experience is about so much more than just making the most of the sand and surf,” explains xxx of The Architects Design Group, who have been responsible for creating the properties. “We wanted to make sure The Village enabled people to live with as little negative impact as possible so that their comfort and enjoyment would be in balance with the natural surroundings. Barefoot luxury in its purest sense.”
And it’s a mentality that seems to work; The Village’s eco-credentials are impressive. Each apartment easily exceeds current government targets, with features that exist quietly within the architecture; in perfect harmony with the high-end contemporary design.
Being built into the cliff side, every apartment takes advantage of earth-sheltering; and has high levels of insulation throughout, which together with the south-facing glazing, capture and keep the warmth from the sun. Sedum green roofs improve biodiversity and rainwater run-off, as well as the apartments’ ability to blend into their surroundings.
These features, combined with solutions such as highly efficient lighting, rainwater collection and solar water heating all add up to a winter heating energy requirement equivalent to boiling a kettle.
The best thing is that it all happens so effortlessly within the buildings’ design that you don’t have to worry about being green, The Village does that for you. Both beachside luxury and eco-credibility win without anyone putting up a fight, which leaves you with nothing left to do but head back upstairs, pour yourself a cocktail and settle on the generous cedar wood deck to watch the sunset, safe in the knowledge that when it comes to living in this Village, everything is in perfect balance.