Case study

A storm at sea


The unique design of this basic retail box restaurant takes its inspiration from the aftermath of a 2008 storm at sea that capsized a large cargo ship and left the local south coast beaches of Dorset strewn with more than 2000 tonnes of timber, lying often several feet deep at the tide line.

To acknowledge the memory of this event, already firmly stamped into local history, STAC Architects adopted a conceptual approach that captures the movement and some of the organic natural forms created by the washed-up cargo, in the external cladding and general atmosphere of the new building.

To create the external form, the architects chose to pair a unique undulating wave-form of unfinished character oak, which will weather naturally over time, with a black brick, reminiscent of the black pebbles that pepper the coastline. They finished the design with large areas of glazed doors and aged bronze fascia panels, in similar dark tones.

The choice of brick was critical to the success of the design. STAC decided on Ibstock’s 290 x 102 x 50mm Linear Black Impression, a long, narrow brick that reinforces the horizontal nature of the scheme. The ‘eroded’ appearance of the face, with an irregular pattern of depressions across the surface, created a unique look that matched the architect’s vision. To reinforce a contemporary feel, the bricks were laid in horizontal stack-bond with raked joints in black graphite mortar.

A gradual transition from edge-stacked hardwood timber to the left of the facade via the undulating wave form to solid brick at the right hand corner, required the manufacture of bespoke corner bricks with both a front and edge ‘eroded face’ to carry the design around the corner.

Internally the theme continues, with the Black Impressions brick used to create an entrance draft lobby. Here the architect displays playfulness, through the creation of a compound curved brick wall supported at the head and base by curved reinforcement bars and with close stacked bricks, resin-bonded to avoid traditional mortar joints and provide a cleaner, more contemporary look. The wall can thus be experienced from both sides, complete with manufacturer’s stamp, creating its own unique pattern to the rear. At its ends, the lobby wall is complemented with oak bricks in various lengths, providing fixing points for the frameless glass lobby doors.

Internally the ‘pebble’ finish is continued with stack-bonded Black Impressions bricks framing eating areas, alongside feature walls of shadow-forming Ibstock Copper Glazed Umbra Sawtooth bricks, laid alternately with oak bricks specially manufactured with a ‘negative sawtooth’ to create an exaggerated zig-zag appearance as a backdrop to the restaurant.

Throughout the building, STAC have experimented with different combinations of Umbra Sawtooth and Black Impressions brick, alongside thousands of bespoke oak bricks, to create various features – not only underlining the exciting nature of the project but the unique and versatile nature of brick in both internal and external application.