Childhood memories of a day at the seaside always include a walk down the pier, looking down at the amazing structure below rusted from years of waves crashing against them, always a little hesitant as to how safe they were.
Piers are an iconic symbol of a British seaside, with no two the same. Some are plain, some are elaborate, and all have different uses from amusement arcades to theatres. You can always find a bench to sit and enjoy the summer sun with a light sea breeze, eating fish and chips or donuts, taking in the scenery and watching the world go by.
Maintaining our iconic seaside piers can be expensive, and some of Britain’s oldest piers are at risk from corrosive sea water and owners who fail to maintain them. More than half are owned by private owners; only 39 percent are owned by the council. One of the lucky ones is Hastings Pier, constructed in 1872 and closed to the public since 2008 due to decades of neglect. It has now been brought back to life with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the amazing architectural work of the drMM. drMM is a London-based architectural firm renowned for creating innovative architecture that is high-quality and useful.
Most of the money was spent on the substructure; the Pier itself is a far cry from its original design. It is now a stark wooden deck with a wooden building popping up in the middle that houses a restaurant and community space. A staircase leads to a rooftop pavilion wrapped in a glass balustrade, where concerts and puppet shows are held. The structure is made up of reclaimed timber wall cladding that calls to mind http://www.wilsonsyard.com/products/timber-wall-coverings/reclaimed-timber-wall-coverings.html. It was reclaimed from the original fire-damaged deck and fitted in a zigzag pattern. The end of the pier has been left open, like the deck of a ship, giving you an open view of the sea. The design has won The Stirling prize for architecture and was praised for changing the idea of what architecture is.
It took seven years to turn a smoldering pier of disrepair into a dynamic new space for the community and holidaymakers of the future. The process of restoration used material from the original pier and brought it into the 21st century.