Coastline piers are definitely one of Britain most common man-made spectacles. The first british pier ever erected was in 1814 on the Isle of Wight. Over 200 years later, this year’s prize winning pier however is Hastings’ Pier by dRMM.
Originally constructed to enhance and transform the local town’s tourism in 1872, it’s Victorian ballroom even held concerts with artists such as Jimi Hendrix a The Rolling Stones. Unfortunately though, and not unlike many other piers along British coasts, towards the end of the 20th Century the pier began to struggle and turned to arcades and fast food in attempts to uphold the piers bustling life. This was however only mildly successful as the pier became increasingly in need of rejuvenation or demolition. It was eventually closed in 2008 and shortly after, in 2010, was burned down.
Thankfully, a group of local people who wanted to give the pier another chance. Of course, as the original had been burned down, they had to go back to the drawing board- and with outstanding success, they did. Funded by CrowdFunded, the local community and many supporters, they were able to re-build the pier and re-invent the community’s dying tourism hub. Not only did they reimage the Hastings pier but create blueprints for how any existing British pier could be developed.
The new pier has been re-built with modern life in mind. It has a shop, cafe, two events rooms and offices. A large glass viewing area overlooks the sea beneath the roof viewing terrace. Many of the original remaining materials were reused throughout the pier creating a patch worked effect and other pieces used and re-created into furniture for the visitors centre. It spans a vast 277m with 2 levels- the traditional walkway and also a rooftop viewing terrace. Not only was the pier reincarnated but in doing so, the dRMM teamed up with a local employment initiative and gave people much needed jobs along the way.
It is clear that this was a deserving winner of this year’s Stirling Prize. We hope to see many other piers follow in their footsteps and rejuvenate coastline tourism back its once bustling atmosphere. We are also very excited to see community lead projects emerge in this spectacular way. The evolving roles architects could have on similar community projects is fundamental; so let’s all take inspiration for 2018 from this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize Winner.