The Exbury Egg: An Artist’s House

“Building and crafting a shape like this is an unbelievable challenge, and this project is one of a kind. This extraordinary shape provides somewhere to live, work, create and most interestingly to float.”

. . . Clarke & Field-Lewis, G & J. 2013 – George Clarkes Amazing Spaces. London. Quadrille Publishing Ltd . . .

Project & Environmental Data

Project Info

  • Location: Exbury, Hampshire
  • Cost: £40,000
  • Designation: AONB, National Park, SSSI, Conservation Area, SAC, Ramsar Designated
  • Collaborators: SPUD, Stephen Turner, Stephen Payne (Navel Architect)
  • Image Credit: Nigel Rigden


2015 RICS Awards: Design Through Innovation, Shortlisted
2014 Architects Journal: Small Projects Awards, Shortlisted
2014 Architects Journal: Small Projects 'Sustainability Award', Shortlisted
2014 RIBA Regional South Award, Winner
2014 RIBA Small Project Award, Winner
2014 RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize, Shortlisted
2013 LEAF Awards: Sustainable Interior of the Year, Winner
2013 LEAF Awards: Best Use of Space, Shortlisted
2013 The Wood Awards: Small Project, Shortlisted

Environmental Data

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Insulation
  • Thermal Mass
  • Airtightness
  • Solar PV
    1 2 3
  • Embodied Carbon
    1 2
  • Heating/Hot Water
    Electric Gas Ground Source Air Source
  • Solar Thermal
    Yes No
  • Rain Water Harvest
    Yes No
  • Ventilation
    MVHR Natural
  • Energy Storage
    Yes No

Anchored like a boat to the bed of the Beaulieu River in Hampshire, England, this large wooden structure floats with its lower part concealed below the waterline as it rises and falls with the tides.

The brief … to design a temporary, low-tech, off-grid, sustainable space that would provide artist Stephen Turner with somewhere to live and work for a year. It would need to be sympathetic to its environment and, just to make things a little bit more tricky, its final location would be a sensitive conservation area.

Our designs are rooted in place and people. We take inspiration from thorough research which in turn informs our design solutions ensuring every project is bespoke.

We respect our clients and their needs, and we respect those who work with us throughout the process – everyone plays a valuable part. We respect the uniqueness of each team member within PAD studio. We practice respect in all aspects of our work and not just through the buildings we create.

The simple interior echoes the ethics and principles of the exterior. The egg was not destined to become a sleek luxurious residential space, instead, fitted out with the bare essentials needed to live a modest and simple life – a bed, a stove, a desk and a wet room, with enough power for a laptop, mobile phone and digital camera.

The exterior of the egg was clad in cedar wood - much of which was recycled from old shed and garage doors. For the egg to be watertight whilst retaining a natural unfinished wooden exterior to display the effects of weathering and erosion, the cedar was double layered with a layer of glass epoxy placed in between to create a waterproof barrier.

Various solutions were explored which would enable the egg to rise and fall with the tides while staying upright and stable without rotating. Tow weighted fins were applied to the egg, like a twin keel on a boat, stopping any possible rotational movement.

Measuring 6 x 3m (20 x 10ft) …the egg is designed to move up and down with the tides. Solar power is harnessed as the energy source with the project following the principles of ‘lean, green and clean’ and ‘reduce reuse and recycle’.

The egg is such an everyday shape that we hardly ever stop to question it, but in design and architectural terms it is a very complex structure. This egg, undoubtedly was a technically challenging project; a hybrid born from the worlds of art, science and architecture.

As the artist in residence, Stephen would use the egg to observe this fascinating, changing environment, studying the water’s edge between high and low tides observing the landscape for effects of global warming and tidal erosion. The egg itself was to become part of the environment, weathering with the elements as the year progressed and engaging with the flora and fauna of the water.

"PAD studio showed an admirable degree of flexibility, responding to the restrictions demanded by the sensitivity of the site while maintaining the integrity of their design to create a beautiful, internationally acclaimed structure that was absolutely fit for purpose. PAD studio clearly understood the unique nature of the Exbury Egg as a collaborative, art and architecture project and their professionalism, creativity and commitment were fundamental in making the Exbury Egg such a successful project for SPUD. We would have no hesitation in working with Wendy and her team again or in recommending PAD studio"
. . . SPUD . . .