Whatever the outcome of the Judging for the 2017 Stirling Prize, the People’s Vote is in and Hastings Pier has won it by a huge margin with 42% of the votes! It’s a winner for us too; our CEO Kate Stewart first met some of the people behind a community-led project to restore the pier following a fire, whilst running Crowdfunding workshops for the Princes’ Regeneration Trust and their BRICK (Building Resources, Investment and Community Knowledge) programme. We’ve watched their journey with interest…..
Today we salute the bravery of the Hastings Pier Charity and their Architect dRMM in committing to open space and recognising the importance of space for citizens to occupy and make their own rather than imposing what their team refer to as “the predictable unnecessary hero building at the end”.
It is important that we retain public space in our towns and cities that small organisations and community groups as well as families and individuals can ‘programme’ and interpret over time. So much of our lives are spent working and living in buildings with poor quality light and air that the ability to be outdoors, to have space for thoughts, conversations and interactions that are not based on consumer transactions is vital to our well-being.
To give the community the space to just BE is a true act of bravery and one that has clearly resonated with the public who have voted Hastings Pier to win the People’s Vote in the 2017 Stirling Prize. Of course, there is a building too, and it’s beautiful – clad in the limited timber decking that survived the 2010 fire, this Visitor Centre has also been created as an adaptable space for indoor events, exhibitions and educational activities.
dRMM say their focus was on “providing open space to allow universal access to the pier….creating a strong, well-serviced platform that could support endless uses; from big-top circus to major music events, local fishing to international markets” and their process began with what Alex de Riijke calls “a series of events to engage the eccentric outspoken population of Hastings and St Leonards in establishing what the rebuilt Pier could or should be.”
This act of community-led regeneration project has brought in more than 300,000 extra visitors to Hastings per year, according to the Hastings Pier Charity and an extra £1.2m for the local economy (Hastings Borough Council figures). Perhaps more importantly, it is also the site of social sustainability; galvanising community, volunteering, investment, employment, entertainment and tourism.
This People’s Vote has deservedly gone to a project that demonstrates how architecture can represent civic pride and politics, and how the public appreciate being given open public space in an age when we seem to be fighting to keep it. How wonderful it would be if this represented a real change in approach that we will see in other towns and cities across the country.
Photos: @Alex De Riijke @Ramboll @Hastings Pier Charity @James Robertson