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Hooray for Hastings

There is something heartwarming about Hastings Pier by dRMM winning the Stirling Prize.

It is a publicly accessible building (building? structure? who knows or cares) and one that happened only because it was driven, first by the determination of the local community and then by the imagination and commitment of the architect.

At first glance, there may not seem to be a lot of ‘architecture’ but in fact, it is, of course, all about architecture. The siting of the pavilion mid-pier, and the re-use of burnt wood as cladding are the sort of moves that only seem obvious after the event.

And if the prize went also for fund-raising and fighting after the fire that could have meant the death knell, well that is architecture too. Detailing and choice of appropriate materials are an important part of the architecture, but they are not everything. Imagination and problem solving – financially and administratively as well as technically – are also essential. The pier is a truly democratic winner – a building for everybody made possible by a lot of people.

I can only see one downside. Hastings is a lovely place to visit. Already the Jerwood Gallery is drawing upon the architectural fraternity. Now the town will be crawling with architects. Ah well, such is the price of success.

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