New Urban Splash Competition – Birnbeck Island and Pier

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      Paul Clerkin

      This new international competition seeks a team bursting with inspiration and ideas to bring life back to Birnbeck Island and Pier in Weston-super-Mare. The competition is organised by the RIBA and Urban Splash working with North Somerset Council, Birnbeck Pier Regeneration Trust and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

      The remarkable site is in north Weston-super-Mare and was completed in 1866, and was designed by the great pier builder Eugenius Birch. Over the years it has played host to thousands and thousands of holiday makers, Paddlesteamers used to ferry people to and from Wales with the last journey made in 1979 and even the Beatles spent time at Birnbeck back in the day. The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) has a fully operational station on the island which has been there for 125 years.

      Urban Splash wants to create a fantastic development with public access, new attractions and facilities to draw more residents, workers and tourists to Weston-super-Mare.

      “Birnbeck is an outstanding site,” said James Howard, associate director, Urban Splash (South West). “We’re really hoping to attract the best architects from around the world to create the special new Birnbeck, which it so thoroughly deserves.”

      The competition will be carried out in two stages with the 9 November 2007 as the deadline for submissions. The judges will then select a shortlist of 6 who will be invited for second stage interview. Urban Splash intends to invite local people to comment on the shortlist and their comments will be fed back to the judges. It is intended that a winner will be announced in early 2008 and the winner appointed to work with Urban Splash to develop the scheme.

      The full judging panel is as follows :
      George Ferguson, Acanthus Ferguson Mann and RIBA Competition Chair
      Jeremy Gould, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE)
      Sir Neil Cossons, former Chairman of English Heritage
      Colin Molton, Deputy Chief Executive, South West Regional Development Agency
      Will Alsop, Director, Alsop Design
      Fred Taggart, Director, Prince’s Regeneration Trust
      Charles McCann, Chairman Birnbeck Pier Regeneration Trust and Friends of the Old Pier Society; Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, Deputy Leader and Executive Member Strategic Planning, Highways and Economic Development, North Somerset Council
      David Turner, Director of Development and Environment, North Somerset Council
      Jonathan Falkingham, Chief Executive, Urban Splash
      Jason Collard, Managing Director, Urban Splash (South West)

      Says Councillor Elfan Ap Rees : “I think it is a great idea to mount a design competition. It reflects the importance of the site and its unique location as the only island in the country connected to the mainland by a pier. It also acknowledges the keen interest shown in the future of Birnbeck by local residents and the possible role the island can play in the regeneration of this of Weston-super-Mare.”

      The competition brief will be available from 17th August 2007. Anyone wishing to submit an entry must register with the RIBA Competitions Office to receive an official ‘declaration form’. Only entries accompanied by a declaration form will be accepted. To register and receive the form send a cheque for £50.00 (including VAT), payable to ‘RIBA Competitions Office’ (note : there are no credit card facilities).

      To find out more about the competition visit, the dedicated website for this competition.

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