Southend Pier
The long pier at Southend-on-Sea in England is a historic landmark that is to be transformed into a modern meeting place with an environmental profile. The international architectural competition attracted 74 practices, of which five were shortlisted. White was chosen as the winner with a proposal that shows ability to combine razor-sharp design with environmental, social and economic sustainability. The pride of Southend since 1835, the pier is more than two kilometres long - the longest of its kind in the world. By attracting the best proposals via an international architectural competition, the local council wanted to develop a proposal that would breathe new life into the pier and surrounding area. The objective was to create a modern attraction with an environmental profile that could both attract visitors and be a source of pride for the town’s residents. The competition attracted a total of 74 practices, five of which went through to the final round where White was chosen as the winner with a proposal for a vibrant thoroughfare that starts as an extension of the town's main street and ends with a striking outdoor theatre, restaurant and culture centre two kilometres offshore. White proposes a meeting place for both tourists and residents with restaurants, cafés and a culture centre with studios, exhibitions, film showings, performances and events. The main feature is an outdoor theatre with a capacity of 500 where the audience will sit in shelter under the open sky with the sea all around and the coastline as backdrop. The new pier head can be seen as the starting point for the transformation of the entire pier into a vibrant urban boulevard. The entire project will be integrated into the scenery at the location. The structural elements have borrowed their forms from the waves of the sea, and the three elements have been laid out to provide the best possible shelter and most spectacular views. The maritime environment puts a strain on most traditional building materials. White's proposal rests on extremely long-term thinking in terms of sustainability, with natural materials (wood, corten steel and glass) that can withstand the harsh climate without requiring much maintenance. All the buildings will be energy efficient using renewable energy, wind power and heat extracted from sea water - all to ensure an environment that is carbon-neutral.


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