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Oh I do like to be beside the….

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We recently went to visit Sandwich and Margate in Kent for a child free weekends

We knew little about Sandwich other than the fact that it is one of the Cinque Ports and home to Google Box’s Steff and Dom.

We went for a walk and explore around the town of Sandwich and we were pleasantly surprised with the sheer amount of detail and material interest evident in most of the buildings. The whole town must be listed and a complete headache for anyone to actually do any building works. Materials used in the buildings included flint, cobbles , sandstone, red brickwork, multi stock brickwork, lime render, oak, pantiles, bone, lead, brass and slate.

The next stop was to Dreamland in Margate, the recently restored original pleasure gardens/seaside funfair.  After an extensive ‘save dreamland,’ campaign headed by Wayne Hemmingway, the first phase of the restoration works opened the funfair to the public. The project, in collaboration with Guy Hollaway Architects and Ray Hole Architects, has restored the Grade II*-listed scenic railway and refurbished key buildings such as the roller disco and the ballroom.

The Centre for Social Justice’s 2013 report Turning the Tide identified Margate as one of the most deprived coastal towns in the UK. The site was not fully operational but great fun none the less. The graphics and design seen in the signage, maps and branding was fun and appealing to both children and adults, and the history behind each ride was clearly articulated. The re-built listed scenic railway was unfortunately not open for business but the large Ferris wheel gave great views of Margate and the sea.

Our last visit of the weekend was to the Chipperfield Turner Contemporary. Since it opened in 2011 it has welcomed 850,000 visitors in the first two years alone. A Grayson Perry exhibition was on which was fantastic but my interest laid with the building, it felt quite arbitrary and isolated, sitting away from the main seafront parade with a very peaceful atmosphere. The grid of the building softens as you walk inside creating a free space despite the rigid volumetric and patterned approach to the outside. Well worth a visit and inspiring to see a once run-down seaside clearly prospering with focused development using great architects.