Duncan Clark and Beckett where requested by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to design a new Lifeboat station to house a newly developed all weather craft, The Tamar class lifeboat. The location for the building was to be Shoreham-by-Sea, which had been earmarked for the new boat because of the below standard condition of the existing station which was no longer suitable to function as an operational station. We were tasked with designing a building that would be externally robust to combat the extreme weather and tidal conditions of the site, while also providing a functional and comfortable internal environment for the crew to carry out the day to day operations of a Lifeboat station. The station was also to include, alongside the Tamar class boat hall, a housing for a D-Class inflatable boat. The station would also have to provide the necessary changing facilities, crew training facilities, offices, workshops and a souvenir outlet that a major RNLI building requires.
The building form and layout were developed in a collaborative process between Duncan Clark & Beckett, Structural and Marine Engineers Royal Haskoning and the RNLI. The buildings form was designed to express the functions of the internal spaces, with a sweeping standard seam roof wrapped around the larger volume of the Tamar boathall which flattens over the volume containing the crew accommodation. The external materials were chosen mainly for their abilities to withstand the harsh environment of such an exposed coastal location. The use of facing concrete and engineering brickwork at ground floor level was mainly down to the need for a durable material capable of resisting flood damage. The use of natural Baltic larch cladding was selected because of its durability and the materials connection with the timber rowing boats that were historically used by the RNLI.
The building was constructed initially from a reinforced concrete pile and raft foundation, which had a structural glue laminated timber frame mounted on to support the superstructure of the building. The wall construction of the building was in the majority constructed using timber studwork panels, insulated to an extremely high level in an effort to reduce the running cost of heating the building. The high levels of insulation were combined with the use of a ground source heating system which draws heat from the earths core to power an underfloor heating system. The roof of the building was a standing seam natural aluminium roof with integral flashings and rainwater system.