Eugenius Birch’s Grade II listed Birnbeck Pier at Weston-super-Mare has been deteriorating towards dereliction for several decades. The pier – unique as the only structure that links mainland UK with an island – is one of the most at-risk structures in the country.
We won an international architectural competition with RIBA to select an architect for the project. The judges saw our winning concept as simple and robust, based on a deep understanding of landscape and historical context, together with a ‘real empathy and commitment for the project and a clear willingness to work alongside client and stakeholders to develop and deliver a scheme that works well for Weston’.
Our proposals recognise that the repair of the pier can only be achieved in conjunction with the sustainable regeneration of Birnbeck Island and the headland. We respect the heritage of the site and propose to rebalance the natural and manmade, by stripping away all of the non-listed structures and exposing the beauty of the rock once again, before carefully adding back new development.
The new buildings are about the sky, the weather and the aspect. They are elevated to maintain panoramic views underneath. They respond to the environment and enhance the setting. They are to be built in the heroic spirit of the pier – the horizontal lines of the manmade contrasting against the natural form of the island.
The pier should be repaired and rejuvenated as a place to once again promenade or simply walk the dog.
The rocks will become publicly accessible by way of boardwalks and steps. We aim to attract people back to Birnbeck to explore rock pools, clamber over boulders, bird watch or sit and watch the sun set.