The Dune House Thorpeness, JVA Design, Suffolk Property, Jarmund/Vigsnæs Home

The Dune House Suffolk

Living Architecture, England, UK – design by Jarmund/Vigsnæs Architects (JVA) in Thorpeness, UK

page updated 25 Sep 2016 with new photos

The Dune House Suffolk

5 Jul 2013

New images added:

Dune House England
photo : Nils Petter Dale

Dune House England
photo : Ivar Kvaal

Dune House England Dune House England Dune House England
photos : Nils Petter Dale

22 Jun 2012

The Dune House – Award

Design: Jarmund Vigsnaes Architects & Mole Architects

RIBA Awards 2012 Citation:

The Dune House

Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture concept allows people to find out what it is like to live in a fine piece of architecture, albeit for just a few days. While enjoying a pleasant holiday they might be taking their first steps to becoming clients themselves.

This example, with Mole Architects again taking the executive architects role (as they did with another non-UK firm MVRDV on the Balancing Barn), is a conceptually bold project that is also well-detailed and constructed. An open plan living space hunkered into its land is topped by four tent-like bedrooms above. Architecturally the roof form plays on the local vernacular gables and sheds but is also an exploration in geometry.

Dune House Dune House Dune House
images : Chris Wright

The Dune House – RIBA Awards winner, 2012

The Dune House – Building Information

Address: Aldeburgh Road, Thorpeness, Suffolk
Architect: Jarmund Vigsnaes Architects & Mole Architects
Client: Living Architecture
Structural Engineer: Jane Wernick Associates
Contractor: Willow Builders

Contract Value: confidential
Date of completion: Dec 2010
Gross internal area: 243 sqm

The Dune House in Suffolk

Design: Jarmund/Vigsnæs Architects (JVA)

Location: Thorpeness, Suffolk

A building with a complex roofscape geometry, that references local seaside buildings, while remaining distinctively contemporary.

The Dune House is a stunning reinvention and reinterpretation of the English seaside dwelling.

Dune House Dune House Thorpeness Dune House Suffolk
images from Living Architecture

Designed by a Norwegian practice celebrated for their creative responses to the highly seasonal Nordic landscape, The Dune House will be JVA’s first UK building. It is located on the southern edge of the village of Thorpeness, on the Suffolk coast.

“For us the most interesting tension was to create something that would not only fit in with the local landscape and ‘society’, but would also be refreshingly new”, says director Hakon Vigsnaes. “The gabled roof is particularly ‘English’ – not something you would find in Norway – so we wanted to make a feature of that.”

The roof, clad in a lightly tinted orange steel alloy, reflects the changing colours of the sea and sky and the panoramic windows on the ground floor offer views of the sea, whilst giving the sense of the house being nestled in the dunes. JVA wanted to create more than just a space for sleeping upstairs, so each of the four double bedrooms has a bathtub in it, with windows carefully positioned so that one can lie in warm water and take in views of the North Sea and surrounding meadows. Separate shower and toilet facilities are attached to each room and there is a small library and roof terrace on this floor.

Dune House Dune House Thorpeness Dune House Suffolk
images from Living Architecture

The ground floor, with its living area, kitchen, terrace and further en-suite bedroom, is at once open to the landscape and protect from it by being set into the dunes. Sliding doors can be opened on the ground floor to give 360 degree views, a move which emphasizes the floating appearance of the upper floor.

While the materials of the ground floor (concrete, glass and aluminium) root the building with a reassuring sense of heaviness, the upper floor (made of timber planks) gives a nautical feel that echoes the gables and seaside huts of the area.

Dune House In-Between House
images from Living Architecture

Dune House – Project Team

– Architect: Jarmund/Vigsnæs Architects
– Executive Architect: Mole Architects
– Contractor: Willow Builders
– Structural Engineer: Jane Wernick Associates
– Engineer (Timber superstructure) Eurban
– Quantity Surveyors: Boyden Group LLP
– Clerk of Works: Steve Foot, Techs Project Management

Living Architecture partners at The Dune House

– Kitchen appliances provided by Miele UK
– Kitchen equipment provided by David Mellor Design
– Bed linen by Peter Reed luxury linen

Jarmund/Vigsnæs Architects (JVA)

JVA, established in 1996, is a young Norwegian practice responsible for building a series of highly accomplished, modestly-priced houses in Oslo and its outskirts. Past projects include working with the Norwegian Ministry of Defence in 2006, Galleri Trafo (Norway) in 2006 and the Oslo School of Architecture in 2002.

Living Architecture has commissioned other houses by Peter Zumthor, NORD, MVRDV and Hopkins Architects.

Long House – house design for Living Architecture by Hopkins Architects:
The Long House
image from Living Architecture

Shingle House – house design for Living Architecture by NORD:
Shingle House
image from Living Architecture

Balancing Barn – house design for Living Architecture by MVRDV:
Balancing Barn
photo : Edmund Sumner

Dune House was formerly known as In-Between House

Living Architecture Houses

– The Balancing Barn, MVRDV (the Netherlands) in Thorington, Suffolk. Due to complete October 2010.

– The Shingle House, Nord Architecture (UK) in Dungeness, Kent. Due to complete November 2010.

– The Dune House, Jarmund/Vigsnæs Architects (Norway) in Thorpeness, Suffolk. Due to complete end of 2010.

– The Long House, Hopkins Architects (UK) in Cockthorpe, Norfolk. Due to complete Spring 2011.

– A Secular Retreat, Peter Zumthor (Switzerland) in South Devon. Due to complete Winter 2011.

Living Architecture Houses – information + images

Location: Thorpeness, Suffolk, England, UK

English Architecture

English Architecture Designs – chronological list

Suffolk Buildings

English Beach Houses – Selection

Dungeness Beach House
Simon Conder Associates
Black Rubber Beach House
photo © Stephen Ambrose 07866 602627
Black Rubber Beach House Dungeness

El Ray
Simon Conder Associates
El Ray
photo © Paul Smoothy
El Ray Dungeness : Stephen Lawrence Prize winner 2009

English Houses – Selection

Underhill House, Cotswolds, west England
Seymour-Smith Architects
Hill Barn Cotswolds
image from architect
Underhill House

Black House, Cambridgeshire
Mole Architects
Black House England
photo : John Donat
Black House

Living Architecture
Living Architecture has asked a series of established and emerging world-class architects to build houses around the UK. The houses will be available to rent for holidays by the general public.

The inspiration for Living Architecture came from a desire for people to be able to experience what it is like to live, eat and sleep in a space designed by an outstanding architectural practice. Whilst there are examples of great modern buildings in Britain, they tend to be in places that one passes through (eg. airports, museums, offices), and the few modern houses that exist are almost all in private hands and cannot be visited. Living Architecture will start to open its houses for holiday rentals in the spring of 2010. Further information can be found at

The Living Architecture team comprises of chairman, Dickon Robinson, director, Mark Robinson and executive architect, Meredith Bowles (Mole Architects). The advisory team are Stuart Lipton, property developer, ex chairman CABE; Tom Bloxham, chairman of Urban Splash; Ambassador Alexis Lautenberg, Swiss ambassador to the UK; Michael Morris, co-director of Artangel; Alain de Botton, writer and architectural critic and Peter Rogers, director of Stanhope.

Suffolk College

English Houses – Selection:

Hertfordshire House

Hind House

Salt House

Comments / photos for The Dune House England – Contemporary Suffolk Property by JVA page welcome