The beach hut, reinvented

Balustrading from Bohle was installed in a contemporary beachfront installation by Riba award winning architects’ practice.

The British seaside. Think promenades, ice creams, fish and chips, and the defining architectural feature: the beach hut.

The Beach Houses, Royal Seabathing, Margate, aren’t, however, your average beach huts. First, they’re two storeys high, defined by anthracite-grey floor-to-ceiling glazing and larch cladding which forms the roof and wraps the walls.

These high-end holiday homes also come with two bedrooms, each with underfloor heating, an en-suite bathroom, and state-of-the-art sound system.

Built on the site of the former Royal Sea Bathing Hospital, which opened in 1796 to help children living in east London benefit from fresh air and sea water, these features contribute to a £500,000+ price tag.

And that’s before the view over Westbrook Bay is taken into consideration. Something made possible in part by the Easymount Vario by Bohle.

Paul Groves, contracts manager at PGS Glass, which installed the 85m long ground level balustrading along the fronts of the 11 properties, said: “We were brought onto the project because the ground floor wall wasn’t high enough to meet requirements.

“This meant that the developer, WW Martin, was looking for a solution that allowed them to preserve the view from the lower balcony looking out over the bay, which meant that they didn’t want a rail and post system.

“The challenge was that it is a coastal location and is quite exposed, so strength and the robustness of the solution was very important.”

The solution, adopted by PGS Glass and WW Martin, was the Bohle EasyMount Top L mount profile, which, supplied in 2.5m anodised aluminium, achieves a 3.0kN line loading with the Vario mounting kit. It combined this with 17.5mmm toughened laminate to create a 500mm high balustrade above the line of brickwork.

“We went a step further with the installation actually bricking over the fixings to provide additional strength,” Paul said.

“I’m not sure if Margate is classed as being on the Thames Estuary or the North Sea but either way, the location was very exposed and subject to high winds, so it was really important that we could achieve and demonstrate the structural strength of the installation.”

Another challenge was alignment, since the 85m-long balustrade runs continuously across 11 properties.

“The brickwork looks straight, and you think its straight, but when you’re fitting a high precision product like balustrading along a continuous 85m run, you soon realise that it isn’t,” Paul said. “So, getting the balustrading straight and properly aligned wasn’t easy but we had the flexibility in the system to do it.”

Accommodating glass thicknesses of 12mm to 21.52mm and suitable for interior or exterior use, EasyMount Vario mounting kits use a simple sliding movement to allow installers to achieve new precision in panel positioning, which, combined with simple fitting requirements, cuts installation time by as much as 30%.

This includes full adjustment from the balcony side of up to 34mm to the perpendicular, accommodating imperfections in the mounting base. A precision-fit is also made easier through the use of connecting pins.

Bohle also offers Vetromount, a new easy-fit balustrading system, which has been designed to simplify installation, still further eliminating the requirement for specialist tools and reducing fixing costs and offering residential line loadings of 0.74kN.

Like EasyMount Vario, it’s suitable for installation from one side and without the need for scaffolding. Vetromount can also be aligned to +/-20mm in either direction by hand, and without the use of specialist tooling. The glass is then locked in place using a patented push and pull mechanism.

It’s available in standard 2.5m and 5m lengths in top- and side-mounted options, accommodating glass thickness of up to 21.5mm, with fixing mechanisms supplied according to thickness of glass.

It’s also counterbored, which means it’s suitable for use with standard rather than more expensive counter-fix fixings. The design of the system also means that drill holes can be set further apart at distances of up to 400mm (top-mounted).

Vetromount is supplied by Bohle with a clip-and-fix finishing option, which allows installers to apply a stainless steel ‘skin’ to the standard anodised finish.

“When you look down that full 85m of balustrading, all perfectly aligned, it’s a very impressive fit and we’re quite proud of what we achieved,” Paul said. “The client was also very happy with the solution because it allowed them to meet the requirement for retention, while preserving the view out across the bay.”