There are not many buildings where the story starts 160 million years ago and we can track through history and arrive at Clifftops. The walls of your lodge are the fossils of the creatures, molluscs and oysters that lived in the warm Mediterranean seas of the Jurassic period. You look out onto cliffs that have been shaped by major historical events which created this little Cove on the Isle of Portland.
The Clifftops design principle was to build the lodges in a way that integrated into the environment and history. It needed to celebrate the way that the natural space could really shape the lodges. We wanted to use natural materials with Portland Stone from Albion Mines being an obvious choice, and then we needed to blend the “mark” of the building project with the cliff itself. Copper was chosen because it will oxidise and go green over time. If you walk across East Weares you will see how it nestles into the cliff from a distance.
You are staying in a very unique spot. Clifftops is on the Jurrasic Coast UNESCO World Heritage site and sandwiched between a Listed Castle and an area of Special Scientific Interest. Before we started piling into the cliff we had to seek permission from English Heritage and Natural England. English Heritage, called for ‘something craggy and unobtrusive, subtly and wittily appearing to be a part of the quarry, for instance in the spirit of a wild hermitage as if it were designed by an eccentric 18th-century nobleman’. You will notice that the doors sit behind large stone quoins as if going through a door at the entrance to a cave. Exterior walls create stone groynes for shelter thus mirroring the stone walls on the beach below.
The light and sea are an ever present canvas on which to build. We used large windows which would make the most of the light reflecting from the water with each lodge orientated by 3 degree from the next to change the aspect. If you glance at the floor between the kitchen and lounge in some of the lodges you can see a tile off centre due to the change of angle.
To reflect a sense of place on the Cliff for each lodge the Estate team styled and sourced the furnishings. We named the lodges, Blue for the Sea and Stone for the rocks, Copper for the natural copper on the Island, Silva for the rare Island woodland in the Cove, and Ope for the local people that hewed out the rock and gathered to swim on the beach and worship in the Church. Each Lodge is styled differently to reflect these themes.
The lodges “nestle” below the Castle. The landscaping hides Clifftops. When hired together we open the gates onto the roof terrace where the deck is “revealed” to guest, and Ope has its own secret entrance to the Castle grounds.