With the modern era came a surge pushing for different ways, or a revival of expressing the architecture of places, and objects, the exploration of the architecture of places newly expressed included beaches, once an open space with few umbrellas, and sit-out where the only structure could be the lifeguard station, which has now become a completely different scenery in most parts of the world.

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Rooiels Beach House by Elphick Proome Architects_©https://inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2016/08/Rooiels-Beach-House-by-Elphick-Proome-Architects-2.jpg

Beach architecture could differ from place to place, material usage, and different architect’s perception but the central theme when designing this masterpiece will be explored in this article. 

Firstly, what is a beach? This question may seem absurd but necessary to understand what beach architecture is. Beaches could be sandy, rocky, frozen, or tropical formed as a result of weathering or erosion over time, it is the narrow, gentle sloping strip of land that lies along the edge of a river, lake, or ocean. Sand, pebbles, seashells, fragments, and rocks can be seen as the materials deposited on beaches. 

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Laguna Beach Lagos_©www.cassiedaves.com

Beaches undergo a seasonal change from being wider with a gentler slope in the summer, to being narrow and steeper in the winter. These changes also affect the beach architecture of different places. Beach architecture is the design of a house or set of structures as a response to the climate of a region, it involves like other types of architecture a comprehensive understanding of what the beach offers, and how best to counter or intermingle with the findings made. Beach architecture has enhanced the coastal experience by bringing humans close to nature, an interplay between static and fluidity

Beach architecture is not limited to a singular style as each region, climate or prevailing condition can give rise to a specific solution suited for it. But notwithstanding, the central theme that revolves around airiness, comfort, and light is seen through how firm but fragile the color palette is from turquoise blue to mahogany red, from the openness of the rooms to the glass barriers dividing the interior from the exterior. It may align with two of the three Vitruvius syntheses of a structure: firmness and aesthetics. 

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Beach Brandon Architects_©www.brandonarchitects.com

Beach architecture involves a diverse array of styles from Classical, Mediterranean revival to Art Deco to Modern art deco, International style, Organic style, Modern, and Contemporary styles. Each style brings uniqueness and character to the beachfront and to an extent may create a name for itself, for example, the coastal area of Los Angeles County known as “Beach Cities”. 

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Sencillo Lagos beach house_©https://obodonaija.com/2021/03/05/

Beach architecture in exploring the theme of comfort, airiness, and light uses vital elements in creating its designs they are in no order: 

Open plan, most beach structures use open plans to encourage flexibility, simplicity, and accessibility of space for use in a varying number of ways. Glazing, adequate glazing soaks up the stunning view of the beach and surrounding areas, an invitation to blur the lines between exterior and interior, it is efficient in energy and aesthetic. Lastly, window openings like shutters or louvers protect from the sun rays but permit a delightful beach breeze to fill the space. The use of bamboo, wood, or available local materials for an exquisite exterior or interior finish, are a sought-after aesthetic element in beach architecture. Achieving the above-named parameters with little to no compromise on durability.  

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Modern Custom Beach House, Kauai Hawaii_©www.idesignarch.com

The material composition used in beach architecture is important as it relates to the durability courtesy of the salt water, sand properties, and its functionality in the long haul. The following materials are considered suitable but are subject to prevailing availability in certain regions. 

As regards flooring, concrete can be used even though it could be hard on the feet. Still, rugs placed interior or exterior can offset the coldness, hardwood (white oak) is also a great flooring material, affordable, highly abrasive resistant, and less porous surface to stain, and reclaimed hardwood is an eco-conscious option cut from old–growth mature trees. Lastly, tiles can be used, though subject to potential cracks an installer would be able to fix that, the play with colors, sizes, and patterns makes tiles a favorite in beach architecture as it gives the structure character.

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Beach house_©https://www.oceanhomemag.com/home-design/best-beach-house-building-materials/

Materials for roofing, steel roofs are great for energy efficiency, it is costly and tends to compete with the beach house aesthetic. The western red cedar is a durable and beautiful roof installation susceptible to growths and mildew when untreated. Clay tiles, depending on the architectural style used, it’s durable, energy efficient and cost-efficient, and can be readily replaced due to wear, tears and cracks. Lastly, Slate is a bold and gorgeous material though pricey and heavy but a great choice to consider.

Beach architecture_©www.hiboox.com

For painting, quality acrylic is commonly used as imperfections can be retouched over time, note that interior and exterior paints vary, and all sides should be primed against salt water and smoothen natural wood.

For Superstructure, Brick is recommended, as it ensures thermal and sound efficiency, expensive initially but maintenance friendly in the long haul. Sandcrete blocks are also a good option as they are affordable, measures should be taken in regards to dampen walls.

As the world inches speedily towards the efficiency of space in urban areas, there will continually be a need for beach architecture, the one solution to escape the chaos of urban life and enjoy the tranquility that characterizes the sea offering a spirited gateway to refuel and be revitalized. 

  1. Admin 14th June, 2019 Coastal Living: Best building materials for Beach Houses. Available at https://socalcontractor.com/build-blog/coastal-living-best-building-materials-for-beach-houses/
  2. https://seaislandbuilders.com/news/the-best-materials-to-use-for-beachfront-homes [Accessed August 7, 2022]
  3. Ben Lawrence 20th October, 2017 Five Key aspects for coastal beach house designs. Available at https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/features/comment/five-key-aspects-for-coastal-beach-house-designs# [Accessed August 6, 2022]
  4. Dan Koday 9th March, 2022, the 26 best beach towns in America. Available at https://www.miamiculinarytours.com/architectural-styles-of-south-beach-in-miami/ [Accessed August 7, 2022]
  5. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/beach [Accessed August 7, 2022]
  6. https://www.purewow.com/travel/best-beach-towns-in-america [Accessed August 7, 2022]
  7. https://www.southernliving.com/home/tough-coastal-climate-materials?slide=528ae780-1248-43b2-9319-9d6c54f4c39f#528ae780-1248-43b2-9319-9d6c54f4c39f  [Accessed August 7, 2022]

Victory Udoh-King is an Architecture creative by profession. She is interested in the built environment, and also in the becoming of an architect best suited for the challenges arising from an evolving world. She loves contemporary jazz and architecture shows.