Southend Pier gets a new £3m cultural centre by White arkitekter

Scultpted by Wind and Wave for Southend Pier
Scultpted by Wind and Wave for Southend Pier

Weighing in at 170 tonnes and costing £3m, Southend’s new cultural centre was craned into position on 17 May. Designed by Scandinavian practice White arkitekter, working in partnership with London based architects Sprunt, the 350sqm structure will open later this summer and house a multi-purpose hall, artist studio and a café with outdoor terrace. With a programme of events planned it will bring new cultural life to the promenade.

The world’s longest pleasure pier, the Grade II listed pier was originally constructed in the Victorian era and one of the challenges of the project has been how to approach building onto a listed and fragile structure.

White arkitekter’s innovative design, ‘Scultpted by Wind and Wave’, which won a competition ran by the Landscape Institute in 2009, responds to these challenges and reinstates the famous landmark as a public space. Moving away from the traditional Victorian architecture of the town, it has a bold sweeping geometric shape and uses a soft palette of materials to celebrate the topography of the windswept site, in keeping with the scenic landscape. The dramatic roof will be home to a large multi-purpose hall with floor to ceiling views over the Thames Estuary.

Its unusual and often hostile setting has affected the selection of materials used in the buildings construction. Waterproof membrane has been used to combat the affect of salt corrosion, wind and wave loads. The team also worked with Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to create a roof surface treatment that will sustain the Turnstone birds that roost on the Pier.

The buildings environmental credentials are also impressive, with the superstructure built of recyclable steel and the original timber decking from the pier will be reused in the building. The structure also achieves a 10% renewable energy with the provision of air source heat pump technology, mechanical ventilation and a heat recovery system.


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