Text description provided by the architects. The 2010 destruction of 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 was 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.
This is the first phase of regeneration. Most of the work so far has been up to and including deck level. The HLF 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 Victorian 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 tenant.
The new Visitor Centre is a cross-laminated timber structure, inventively clad in reclaimed decking. 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.