The new Southend Pier Cultural Centre is a meeting place that sits at the end of a 2.16 km (1.6 mile) pier on the west coast of the UK. Southend Pier is the world's longest pleasure pier - it juts out into the Thames Estuary and has been used for over a century to provide access to the sea during both high and low tide. Designed and prefabricated offsite by Swedish firm White Arkitekter in collaboration with UK-based Sprunt, the center's form was inspired by the wind and waves. Built from durable, low-maintenance materials, the center is energy-efficient and features wind power and sea water heating/cooling to reduce its carbon footprint.
Southend Pier Cultural Centre opened in the summer of 2012 to provide gathering space for visitors to Southend-On-Sea. The project was designed by <a href="http://www.white.se/" target="_blank">White Arkitekter, who won a competition to create the multi-purpose space and they were aided by UK Sprunt to construct and install the building. Inspired by the wind and the waves of the surrounding environment, the centre’s volume is sculpted to give the best possible shelter and view. The centre is a meeting place for tourists and residents with restaurant, café, cultural centre with studios, exhibitions, film shows, live performances and events. Visitors can walk the length of the pier or ride the train, which runs at regular intervals.
The building was fabricated offsite in modular parts then shipped to the end of the pier where it was craned into place. As the centre is located in the middle of the water, it was built to handle the rugged maritime environment with durable and weather resistant materials like timber, Cor-Ten steel and glass. The design also ensures very little need be done in terms of maintenance. With its location far from shore, every effort was made to make the building as self sufficient as possible. The centre features energy efficient systems and makes use of wind energy and a sea water-sourced heating system.
Images ©Luke Hayes