Lichen House

This is a project of house refurbishment on the edge of the Chichester Harbour Conservancy, and area of outstanding natural beauty. The house faces the sea.

We have opened up the inside to give the flexibility to the artist owner to use the living space for exhibiting her work. 

The original house has been entirely clad with cement corrugated panels to form a substrate to lichen. Simultaneously, it has been insulated. 

Lichen House

2007 - 2009  |  media: planted building  |  location: Hampshire, UK  |  scale: 150m2

Roof after 6 years

Roof after 6 years


Our aim for the design was to give this mediocre bungalow a new image by renewing its skin to become a garden of lichen which will sensitively integrate in the landscape.

Approached by the client to re-organize the living area and create an entrance, we took the opportunity of the need to replace the roof and part of the façade to re-clad it in an industrial material and insulate. The cement cladding was chosen as lichen happily grows on it in such coastal location. After 7 years a beautiful yellow ochre species has established that contrasts with the dark grey colour of the cladding. Both the matt texture of the cement and the lichen create a soft texture that visually recedes in the landscape. The entire skin of the building is a garden of lichen.

The client, a painter, desired an informal and more comfortable building where she could entertain and show her work. We took inspiration from fishermen cottages and harbour buildings found in the area to give a sense of simplicity and ease.

The utilitarian aspect of the cladding material is balanced with a sense of luxury given by the generosity of a modern interpretation of a Victorian porch, careful framing of the views over Chichester Harbour and precise detailing.

We swiftly achieved planning for this challenging design by cleverly using the permitted development rights. The site is part of the Chichester Harbour Conservancy. Since seeing the completed scheme the conservancy has been convinced of the appropriateness of our approach to the context and are going to use this case study as a good practice example of a sensitive development in this landscape in their design guide.

Internally the whole living area has been opened up to form a space that will also allow the client who is a painter to exhibit her work. Large walls have been created naturally lit from above to show the work to its advantage.

For a minimum effort, the existing building seems completely new.

The project has been published in the Guardian Weekend magazine, Architecture Today, and Coast magazine.

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Project team


Main contractor and cabinetry: Paul Flint


Structural Engineer: Alun Blow from DHK Chichester


Photography: Ioana Marinescu,


Drawings: Eric Guibert



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