The 2010 destruction of the 19th century Hastings Pier by fire was an opportunity to redefine what a pier could be in the 21st century; transforming the shanty town of commercialism it had become in the 20th century.
After local stakeholder consultation it was clear the Pier would be expected to host many different populist scenarios. dRMM’s re-design master-move was to create a strong, well-serviced platform that could support endless uses; from big-top circus to major music events, local fishing to international markets. In homage to conceptualist Cedric Price, users bring their own architecture to ‘plug in and play’.
The first phase of the regeneration is complete. Most of the work so far has been up to and including deck level. The Heritage Lottery Grant grant enabled extensive foundation and structural repairs covering fire, sea and storm damage (£9M). Further funding (£2.5M) facilitated two buildings, the first of which, the remaining derelict 19th century Pavilion, was transformed into an open-plan, fully-glazed restaurant. dRMM were responsible for the exterior shell and cores; the interior fit-out was by local tenant. A seperate kitchen, staff facility and toliet space was created with the addition of two external, circular, plug-in service cores inventively clad in reclaimed decking that survived the 2010 fire.
The new Visitor Centre is a cross-laminated timber structure, clad in the same recycled timber as the Pavilion. Replacing the weakest central section of the damaged pier, it offers adaptable space for events, exhibitions and education, with an elevated rooftop belvedere. Reclaimed timber deck furniture was designed by dRMM and Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling as part of a local employment initiative.
The pier is an extension of the promenade from which it projects; a large public open space. The experience of free space and ‘walking on water’ is heightened by the optics of a louvred balustrade design and quality timber deck. The new pier is a catalyst for urban regeneration. It offers flexibility, material and functional sustainability, and an uninterrupted vista of the natural and built surroundings of the special seaside town of Hastings.
Long term sustainability is essential to this popular symbol of local identity. The ongoing physical repair, rebuild, and transformation of the destroyed Hastings Pier is an exemplar of construction sustainability. This large scale construction project is also the site of social sustainability; galvanising community, volunteering, investment, employment, entertainment and tourism. Hastings Pier Charity managed the rebuild process and so far the first phase is complete.
The Pier transformation demonstrates how architecture can represent civic pride and politics, and has already inspired the regeneration of further derelict buildings and new businesses in Hastings.
The future of the Pier depends on popularity, programming, revenue and further funding. dRMM have drawn up future scenarios to encourage interest and kickstart further development of the Pier. Phase two includes ramp and stairs to sea level, connecting the deck with large boat landing stage, and a mobile roof canopy for sheltering large scale events such as concerts, films and markets. The landing stage would be a rebuild of the original, and the new canopy is conceived as an engineered timber parabolic structure. The canopy is designed to traverse the 280m length of the Pier, straddling the Visitor Centre and transforming its roofscape steps into a covered auditorium. This future phase offers further flexibility and allows the pier to be used throughout the winter season.
dRMM are recognised for creating architecture that is innovative, high quality and socially useful. We are a London-based studio of international architects and designers founded in 1995 by Alex de Rijke, Philip Marsh, and Sadie Morgan. Our high profile, award winning projects include Trafalgar Place, Maggie’s Oldham, Hastings Pier, Faraday House and Clapham Manor Primary School. We owe our reputation to an incredibly talented and resourceful team, who work in the belief that outstanding architecture comes about through client collaboration, creative design, environmental awareness, and building innovation. We go out of our way to understand and realise client needs through detailed research and careful practice. We use standardised, cost-effective materials and building methods to make innovative architecture. For this, and our lightness of touch, the press and public have warmed to us and have described our architecture as joyful, flamboyant and unique.