ONE IS a development on a former industrial site that takes inspiration from beach-hut architecture, another is a park cafe that replaced a shed and a third is a low-carbon house on a country estate.

These are the East Sussex winners in the RIBA South East Regional Awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects at an awards ceremony held at Ascot Racecourse and compered by the broadcaster Kirsty Lang.

RIBA regional director James Robinson said that some “outstanding” buildings were entered for the awards.

He said: “The entries demonstrate the fantastic amount of design talent in and around the south east. The region has many wonderful buildings and the winners this year show that they are still being built.”

Among the winners was Lewes-based BBM Sustainable Design, which won two awards for its design of a new contemporary low-carbon country house and other buildings set in a 275-acre rural estate called Little England Farm, near Hadlow Down. Scooping both the RIBA Regional Award and the Regional Sustainability Award, it’s the second year the company has won the two RIBA awards, last year for its Brighton Waste House project for the University of Brighton.

Using local materials including sweet chestnut timber for wall finishes and furniture, and waste timber for insulation, the company has created a pool house, a new house, developed a 19th century oast house and created a natural pool outside. It used waste timber from the estate to supply carbon neutral energy to the three buildings, which are set in a landscape designed by Sussex-based Landscape Architects Studio Engleback.

The house is built from solid block work, with a chestnut ‘hit and miss’ rain screen and lime render. The “expressive” roof has solar panels and reflects the undulating form of the neighbouring oast house. Inside is a meditation room with a three-storey light canon that lets light in at different times of the day, and one of the room’s main walls is made from rammed earth taken from the ground beneath the meditation room.

The pool house, built on the site of a derelict 1940s dairy, houses a heated swimming pool with steam room and sauna and features solar and sedum roofs.

Both the mediation room and the pool house feature Moroccan Tadelakt plasterwork, traditionally used in Moroccan bathhouses.

BBM’s Duncan Baker-Brown, who also teaches at the University of Brighton, said: “It is a huge achievement for us, especially winning both the design and sustainability awards, which is very special.

“We have been working on this project since 2007 and this award shows we weren’t so misguided and it was worth the effort from everyone who worked on it.

“The project also proves that while this could have potentially been a gas guzzler of a project, it actually has a very small carbon footprint, thanks to the use of local materials, the focus on the use of organic materials that ‘lock’ CO2 instead of burning it, and the use of a woodchip burner.

“Designing a heated pool house plus sauna and steam room predominately out of timber products was particularly challenging, and, we think, successful.

“The award is a great way for BBM to celebrate 25 years in business.”

The RIBA jury said that BBM’s “passion” for the project has produced “a special collection of buildings and spaces”.

The RIBA Jury added: “The house has its own expression and is designed for quiet meditation as well as large family gatherings: in other words, home as family sanctuary. Of special note is the redevelopment of the dairy into the new pool house. The restrained exterior gives no hint of the sophisticated spa facility inside, and the detailing of the now evenly weathered chestnut cladding is a too rare good example of the ubiquitous timber rain screen.”

The design of the Gateway Cafe in Peacehaven was a winner for Kaner Olette Architects, based in Tunbridge Wells.

The practice, which was commissioned by Lewes District Council and Peacehaven Town Council, oversaw the conversion of a former parks shed into a cafe facing a new natural park. It features large glazed screens that open out on to a newly landscaped sports hub area and has a screen wall with interpretative graphics.

Mike Kaner, from Kaner Olette Architects, said: “It was quite a surprise that such a small project won this award but RIBA saw the community benefits of the cafe.

“It’s part of a bigger project in Peacehaven and the cafe was a very important part of it. Our approach was to design a building to fit in with a semi-rural setting that wouldn’t look aggressive and unwelcoming when the cafe is closed with the screens pulled across.

“The cafe is the same size as the original building and we used parts of the structure of the original building but remodelled it, replacing the roof, which was asbestos.

”Sustainability was also important in case the building didn’t work as a cafe and it had to be converted for another use. The cafe is a great success, with lots of events and activities taking place there.”

The project has also won two other awards, the Architect Journal Retrofit Award 2015 and the Constructing Excellence Sustainability Award.

A third award was given to London-based Jonathan Dunn Architects for the development of Cinque Ports Street in Rye.

Beach hut, shipyard, harbour-front architecture influenced the design of the combined residential and retail development, which includes six flats, two penthouses, a studio unit and a detached house as well as two shop units.

It was created on a former industrial site that has the remains of Rye’s medieval town wall, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, running through it.

The architects created steep, pitched roofs and dark timber cladding for the buildings for a dramatic impact at either end, where the roofs lie at a steep incline, reaching low to match the heights of adjoining buildings.

The company explained the ideas behind the design.

A spokesman said: “JDA took design influences from the historic imagery of nearby shipyard warehouses along the river front and the traditional coastal architecture of the East Sussex coastline. The intention was to emphasise the simplicity of the traditional forms and materials by creating a street front elevation with a dramatic angular roof line and simple details.”

“Careful consideration of window placements was given to maximise the views towards the Rother valley and catch the best light. The window positions were detailed so that they appear at random on the street scene. The window frames and gutters are all concealed to emphasise the simplicity.”

The fourth award in East Sussex was won by London-based Sanei Hopkins Architects for a private house called The Narrow House in East Sussex.

All six winners of the RIBA South East Regional Award winners will be up for the RIBA National Awards, which will be announced on June 23, and the winners of those awards will then go on the shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize for the best building of the year.