The biggest prize in architecture has been won by Hastings Pier, a minimalist expanse of Ekki timber boards known by locals as ‘The Plank’.
When the pier’s substructure was severely damaged by fire in 2010, two years after storm damage forced it to close, it looked like the end of Hastings Pier.
But with contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund and tireless fundraising work by local residents, an architecture competition was launched to redesign and rebuild the pier to full working order.
In the end, London-based architects dRMM won the RIBA competition with a design that did not seek to rebuild a replica of a Victorian pleasure pier, but instead to construct a distinctly 21st century version.
Their minimalist structure has few permanent buildings, instead favouring an expanse of Ekki timber boards that serve as a versatile outdoor stage for performances, concerts and other uses, and have earned the reconstructed pier the affectionate nickname of ‘The Plank’ from locals.
RIBA recently announced the pier as the winner of the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize, the biggest award in British architecture, and praised its forward-thinking design.
Ben Derbyshire, president of RIBA and chair of the jury for this year’s prize, said: “Hastings Pier is a masterpiece in 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 alike.”
The Ekki timber used in its construction is the ideal material to ensure the pier remains in good condition for many years to come, as the hardwood boards should be well resistant to the spray from the sea, not to mention its salt content and the strong coastal winds.
Ekki timber mats are used throughout construction for these hard-wearing properties, as well as making an excellent option for use as ground protection mats in coastal and tidal works, on waterlogged land and to provide stability on soft mud and sandy surfaces.