Hastings Pier Wins RIBA Stirling Prize

John Hill
1. November 2017
Photo: Alex de Rijke

Britain's top architecture prize has been awarded to dRMM's Hastings Pier, a major community-led regeneration project in Hastings & St. Leonards, East Sussex.

The winner, selected from six buildings shortlisted in July, was named last night in a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) ceremony at London's Roundhouse. In addition to Hastings Pier being named the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize winner, Bedales School (its Art and Design Building designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios) was named Client of the Year, and the Houseboat by Mole Architects and Rebecca Granger Architects won the Stephen Lawrence Prize.

In the words of RIBA President Ben Derbyshire, who chaired the RIBA Stirling Prize jury, "Hastings Pier is a masterpiece in regeneration and inspiration. The architects and local community have transformed a neglected wreck into a stunning, flexible new pier to delight and inspire visitors and local people alike." The pier had closed in 2008 after storm damage, and in 2010 it suffered a fire that virtually destroyed the whole structure.

But as dRMM's Alex de Rijke put it, "There was no sense in trying to reconstruct it as a 19th century pier – that typology had gone with the fire. There was an opportunity to reuse and reinvent the pier and give it a new future." The new pier, made up of a pavilion, promenade, and visitor center, was designed, in words that echo the influential British architect Cedric Price, "as an enormous, free, public platform over the sea - inspiring temporary installations and events across a variety of scales," per de Rijke.

Timber is the project's primary material. New CLT structure is used for the visitor center, which is clad in timber decking that survived the 2010 fire. The deck's furniture was built from the same reclaimed timber. The project, completed last year, is the first phase of the pier's regeneration. Future plans include a large mobile canopy, also in timber, that traverses the entire length of the pier.

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