Southend Pier Cultural Centre by White arkitekter and Sprunt

Sloping walls and a hyperbolic paraboloid-shaped roof define the main form.

SOUTHEND – A multi-purpose centre now occupies a fragment of the world’s longest pleasure pier - which measures over 2km - as an attempt to revive the UK's momentous dock with its unsual, tapered form.

Designed by Scandinavian architects White arkitekter and London-based Sprunt, the new 376-sq-m centre uses durable materials aiming to endure weathering from its offshore context.

About 70km east of London, the structure is constructed from recycled steel and sits atop 100 year old cast iron piles. A steel primary truss system, designed in conjunction with Price & Myers, evenly spreads the structure's weight over the foundations. A modular organization of triangular frames creates a material-efficient building given its obtuse form, including sloping walls and a twisting, hyperbolic paraboloid roof.

Clever environmental strategies aim to create an optimal internal environment for visitors. The southern facade was designed with floor-to-ceiling glazing that creates an obvious, open entrance. An overlapping roof shades this and the café terrace below from overheating. Other internal spaces include an artist’s studio, event space, public toilets, kitchen and a store.

Tinted glass reinforced plastic (GRP) cladding alters in transparency according to the sun’s intensity. Bright sunlight creates a white face while grey skies create a green tint, generating visual opacity so birds are directed away from flying into the glazing while doubling as visually appealing. 

The provision of an air source heat pump, mechanical ventilation and a heat recovery system allow the building to achieve 10 per cent renewable energy.

Photos courtesy of 


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