Britain's Top Architecture Prize Awarded to ‘Masterpiece of Regeneration’


A historic pier in East Sussex that was devastated by fire has won the UK's most prestigious architecture award -- the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize -- after a multi-million pound redevelopment.

Nicknamed the Plank, Hastings Pier is the work of London-based architects de Rijke Marsh Morgan. The pier reopened to the public last year, its restoration cost £14.2 million.

RIBA president and jury chair Ben Derbyshire said Hastings Pier was a "masterpiece of regeneration and inspiration".

"The architects and local community have transformed a neglected wreck into a stunning, flexible new pier to delight and inspire visitors and local people.


Hastings Pier, on the East Sussex coast and overlooking the English Channel, can chart its history from 1872. For many years it was a popular pleasure pier famous for musical acts, but its recent past was one of neglect.

In 2008 it closed due to storm damage, and in 2010 faced destruction when a fire ravaged the entire structure.

Residents and supporters were determined to use the fire as an opportunity to reimagine the pier. After winning the RIBA design competition dRMM set about close consultation with locals and stakeholders, quickly reaching the conclusion that the pier must serve a wide variety of scenarios to be sustainable. Additional fundraising from a local action group found 3,000 shareholders to buy a stake in the project at £100 a share.

As a result, the development became known as "the people's pier".


Judges of the RIBA awards remarked on the collaboration of the community, council, engineers and architect.

It has taken a seven-year heroic collaboration to turn a smouldering pier in disrepair and decline into a vibrant public space with a palpable sense of ownership.


"This space offered more potential than an iconic building on the end of the pier, and demonstrates the evolving role of the architect as an agent for change."Creative use of timber is at the heart of the transformed pier design. The new visitor centre is a 100 per cent cross-laminated timber structure, clad in the limited timber decking that survived the 2010 fire. This reclaimed timber was also used to make the furniture on the deck, designed by dRMM and Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling Ltd as part of a local employment initiative.

The visitor centre has been designed as an adaptable space for indoor events, exhibitions and educational activities, with an elevated belvedere on top. A glass walled, open-air "room" looks out to the vast views over the Pier and beyond toward Europe, then back to the town and coast.

Hastings Pier was chosen as the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize winner from the following shortlisted entries:

  • Barrett's Grove, Stoke Newington, east London by Groupwork + Amin Taha
  • British Museum World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre, Bloomsbury, London by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
  • Command of the Oceans by Baynes and Mitchell Architects for Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent
  • City of Glasgow College - City Campus, Scotland by Reiach & Hall Architects and Michael Laird Architects
  • Photography Studio for Juergen Teller, west London by 6a architects
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