East Beach Cafe
East Beach Cafe in the small seaside town of Littlehampton sits on a long, narrow strip of land, layered between the seafront promenade in front of it and a high-pressure sewage line behind it. The site was bleak and exposed, causing a tension between the urge to shelter and protect people and the desire to give them a fantastic view of the sea. Rejecting the ubiquitous aesthetic of modern seaside buildings, of white sails, yachts and a romanticized bygone era, the studio wanted to evoke instead a more familiar experience of the texture and richness of a British beach, of stumbling around on damp brown shingle, spotting all that the sea has offered up: slimy pebbles, matted seaweed, old shoes, fragments of wood and tangled rope. The cafe would sit in the shingle like any other interesting seaside object. Unexpectedly, the most critical influence on the design of the building was the roller shutters, which were the affordable way to protect the 40 metres of windows that would open the building up to the sea. Early concepts failed when the large metal shutter boxes were applied above the windows, like big eyelids. In desperation the studio wondered what would happen if the whole building was made out of steel shutter boxes. The finished structure is made from long, undulating ribbons of raw steel, the width of shutter boxes, wrapping around the internal space to form both roof and walls. Crossing the building from back to front, the angled geometry of the box ribbons articulates the otherwise flat facades that encase and protect the back of the building. Along the front of the building are concealed the roller shutters which have had such an impact on the design – visible only when drawn down at night time.


Private developer / Brownfield Catering


Littlehampton, UK







Project Leader

Peter Ayres

Studio team

Fred Manson, Virginia Lopez Frechilla, George
Thomson, Jem Hanbury, Adelina Iliev


AMA Consulting, Adams Kara Taylor, Advance Screeding, Alan Clayton Design, Boxall Sayer, Chant Electrical, D10 Engineering, Langridge Developments, Into Lighting, Littlehampton Welding, Janet Turner, RBC, Renotherm, Ron Packman, Rustington Windows, Solarlux, Wordsearch