Hastings Pier, Hastings
Hastings Pier, winner of the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize, is a 21st century re-creation of the Victorian pleasure pier, designed as a sustainable and flexible platform to host all sorts of activities - funfairs, festivals, markets and major music events - and to be a place where locals and visitors can fish from the railings, stroll high above the water, and look out to the horizon.
The original Victorian pier was built in 1872, rebuilt in 1922 and finally destroyed by fire in 2010. The architect dRMM became involved when Hasting Pier Charity took over the derelict structure and set up a design competition which was won by the practice. This was the beginning of a seven-year collaboration between the architect and the local people. The practice took time to understand their memories of the pier and their aspirations for its future, and it soon became clear that the new pier should be designed to host many different scenarios, which in turn could establish new connections to the community and act as a catalyst for the urban regeneration of Hastings.
The practice also helped to organise local support and campaigned for funding, receiving a Heritage Lottery Fund grant which enabled the storm-damaged foundations and structure to be repaired. It was a real collaboration, with the charity even taking on the role of general contractor.
The new pier is an extension of Hastings Promenade, from which it extends for 280 metres into the sea as a public open space, lined with a new hardwood deck. The only permanent buildings on it are a formerly derelict Victorian pavilion, which has been transformed into an open-plan, fully-glazed restaurant, and further along, a new visitor centre. Set above a renewed central section of the damaged pier, the visitor centre is a cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure, clad with scorched timber boards reclaimed from the remains of the original deck. It contains two large adaptable community spaces for events, exhibitions and educational activities, serviced by public toilets. The north elevation slopes to form a set of wide external steps which lead to a rooftop belvedere with a café kiosk and viewing platform, lined with a frameless glass balustrade.
The reclaimed timber boards were also used to create new external seating and furniture, designed by dRMM and Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling and manufactured as part of a local employment initiative.
The use of timber
The visitor centre has a relatively lightweight structure of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glulam beams. The choice of timber for this was a key decision; it reduced the load on the new support structure and original foundations below, yet the glulam beams could easily span the 11 metre wide community areas. The use of CLT also avoided the need for plastering and other wet trades; the interior walls have a paredback palette of the exposed CLT panels, providing a warm and clean environment. The difficulties of construction on an exposed and elevated tidal pier were made easier by use of CLT panels and glulam; wall, roof and supports were prefabricated complete with door and window openings, delivered ‘just-in-time’ and off-loaded onto the adjacent promenade, then lifted and assembled into position on the pier with a spider crane.
The two large (12.3 x 11 metres and 8 x 11 metres) community spaces are spanned by rows of exposed 580 x 200mm exposed glulam beams set at 600mm centres, supporting a series of CLT roof panels. Externally the CLT wall panels are 117mm thick and are clad with an insulated rainscreen of reclaimed timber boards secured in full-height panels set in a zig-zag formation. The south elevation is glazed with panels which match the zig-zag format of the rainscreen above. The triangular spaces at sill level of the glazing have become popular bench seats.
At the north elevation of the centre the wall slopes down in steps, acting as a full-width staircase which doubles as bench seating for open-air concerts. The timber-boarded stairs/seating are supported by a steel frame set on a sloped wall of 140mm thick CLT panels. The belvedere on the roof is also fabricated from CLT panels and clad with a similar zig-zag rainscreen.
The pier deck was laid with 11,720m2 of Ekki hardwood planks sourced from certified sustainably-managed forests in Africa. The same timber was used to form the 500 metre long handrail to the pier balustrade.
The timber structure
The structural engineer, Ramboll, writes: ‘Creative use of timber is at the heart of the transformed pier design. The new visitor centre is a timber structure predominantly formed from cross-laminated timber, clad in the limited timber decking that survived the 2010 fire.
One of the reasons that timber was chosen as the material for the new visitor centre was because of its high strength and low density properties. Using timber minimised the loading applied to the pier substructure, thereby reducing the size of the elements forming the pier substructure. The walls of the visitor centre and the pier substructure were coordinated so as to align and therefore provide an efficient load path.
Timber stairs guide visitors to the roof deck of the visitor centre which comprises 90mm thick CLT panels spanning between glulam beams that are supported by the external CLT walls. The timber structure is exposed, and so thoughtful concealed connection design ensures a seamless flow of the exposed structure.
Constructing the visitor centre required careful consideration of the construction sequence and loading that could be applied to the pier. Ramboll designed the visitor centre elements to allow for lighter weight construction machinery to access the pier, making the works achievable’.
Although the constrained budget did not allow for a formal BREEAM rating, its guidelines were adapted. The visitor centre is naturally lit and ventilated, with a CLT construction which is also the internal finish, avoiding need for plasterboard or paints and requiring virtually no maintenance. The floor has an organic linoleum finish. The exterior, together with two service pods to the Victorian Pavilion, is clad in reclaimed timber boards, a durable and memorable material already uniquely qualified to deal with the severity of the marine climate.
The pier has helped to encourage more than 300,000 extra visitors to Hastings a year, bringing an extra £1.2 million into the local economy and creating 40 new jobs. Local businesses and new initiatives are growing, given confidence by the ‘Pier effect’.
2017 RIBA Stirling Prize, Winner
2017 RIBA National Award, Winner
2017 RIBA South East Award, Winner
2017 Project Architect of the Year, RIBA South East Awards, Winner
2017 Client of the Year, RIBA South East Awards, Winner
2017 Pier of the Year, National Piers Society
2017 Wood Awards, Highly Commended, Commercial and Leisure
2017 Architectural Review Awards, New into Old, Shortlist
2017 Structural Timber Awards, Retail & Leisure Project of the Year, Shortlist
May 2016Building Type:
Hastings and St. LeonardsClient:
Hastings Pier CharityArchitect:
Timber Craft UKStructural CLT Supply and Erect:
dRMM and Hastings & Bexhill Wood RecyclingTimber Elements:
Structure, walls, floors, external cladding, deckTimber Species:
CLT Spruce, sustainably sourced Ekki hardwood, salvaged pier decking (Jarrah, Purpleheart, Greenheart and Balau)
Kelly Harrison discusses the different construction solutions available.
Article from 23/04/2019
Bill Dunster and Rehan Khodabuccus explain the benefits of using CLT in the off-site construction of low-carbon homes.