The verdict is out! drMM Architects' Hastings Pier has won the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK's best new building. Regarded as the UK's most prestigious accolade in architecture, the Stirling Prize is awarded to the building that has “made the biggest contribution to the evolution of architecture in a given year.”
The Hasting Pier was selected out of six shortlisted projects. Recent recipients of the prize include Damien Hirst's Newport Street Gallery by Caruso St John, the Burntwood School by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Haworth Tompkins' Everyman Theatre, and the Astley Castle by Witherford Watson Mann Architects.
Read on for more about the winning project.
Overlooking the English Channel on the East Sussex coast, Hastings Pier has a history that charts back to 1872. For many years, it was a popular leisure pier well known for musical acts. But after falling into years of neglect, it closed in 2008 following storm damage. Then in 2010, the pier was destroyed by a fire.
London-based practice drMM won the competition to rebuild the pier. Its 19th-century structural iron work hidden below the deck was painstakingly restored and strengthened.
The surviving Victorian Pavilion, one of two buildings on the Pier, was transformed into an open plan, glazed cafe-bar. The vast, multi-functional pier deck is used for large-scale concerts, markets, and other public gatherings. The new pier also features a new timber-clad visitors center, which features a viewing deck on its roof. The new pier — as well as its locally manufactured furniture — is made of timber, which was mostly reclaimed from the original structure.
Upon awarding the Stirling Prize, Ben Derbyshire, RIBA President and RIBA Stirling Prize Jury Chair, said in a statement: “Hastings Pier is a masterpiece of 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. Hastings Pier showcases the remarkable skills, tenacity and problem-solving flair of its talented architects, dRMM. It also rewards the patrons of this great architectural achievement: the local people who have taken the initiative, and risk, to create this highly innovative and extraordinary new landmark. I am delighted to award the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize to the people's pier”.
“dRMM Architects were delighted to collaborate with Hastings Pier Charity on this ambitious project which, like a 'Phoenix from the ashes', was realised through dedicated community action,” stated dRMM Founding Director Professor Alex de Rijke. “The new pier is designed as an enormous, free, public platform over the sea — inspiring temporary installations and events across a variety of scales. This space offered more potential than an iconic building on the end of the pier, and demonstrates the evolving role of the architect as an agent for change. All of the many people who worked on this long project are grateful to have received the prize — and proud of achieving the apparently impossible”.
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