Dune Habitee is a new watersport base near the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez in France that virtually disappears under a grassy dune. All but invisible under sand and grass and cleverly hidden behind wooden planks, the ocean shop is a clever and thoughtful addition to the pristine environment. Designed by Paris-based THE Architectes, Dune Habitee is built from reinforced concrete, durable hardwoods and features brilliant skylight shafts buried into the sand to bring light into the subterranean rooms.
Located on the Vendée coast in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, France, Dune Habitee (or Inhabited Dune) is like what a child would build on the beach if they had all the right tools. A carved out dune with hardwood planks looking out to the ocean makes for a perfect place to begin your beach day. Inside, the building features a public toilet, a reception area, wet and dry equipment storage areas, and changing facilities at the back of the building. Outside, beach goers can lounge on wood-clad benches and seating, while discrete signage leads the curious passerby inside.
Approaching from the land, visitors just see grass, sand and wood planking, which is common to the area as a way of minimizing sand blowing around. THE Architectes designed the beach shop to be mostly concealed by a man-made dune.
Reinforced concrete serves as the structure to hold back the sand on the land side, while the cladding on the ocean side is similar to that of the wooden retaining walls nearby. The cladding is built with azobé, an African hardwood known for its durability in marine environments. Timber-clad skylights poke out through the dune in the back to pull natural light down into the back rooms of the building.
Images ©Stéphane Chalmeau