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Wood Work: Hastings Pier with Alex de Rijke, dRMM

Hastings Pier was completed in 2016 and received the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize. I spoke to Alex De Rijke, co-founding director of dRMM Architects as part of the Wood Work series, devised for the Building Centre. The destruction of the existing pier in 2010 by fire was an opportunity to redefine what a pier could be in the 21st century. After consultation with locals and stakeholders the Victorian pleasure pier was re-imagined as a sustainable, flexible platform able to accommodate a broad range of community and commercial uses for years to come. The visitor centre is a 100% cross-laminated timber structure, clad in the limited timber decking that survived the 2010 fire.

Alex de Rijke is co-founding director of dRMM Architects, a timber architecture advocate, educationalist and architectural photographer. He is responsible for the concept, construction and delivery of dRMMs timber projects such as Sliding House, Maggie's Oldham and Stirling Prize-winning Hastings Pier. In 2006 he wrote, ‘Timber is the new Concrete’, and introduced cross-laminated timber to the UK with groundbreaking prefabricated buildings; Kingsdale School Sports Hall in London, and the Naked House prototype exhibited in Oslo. Through Alex’s leadership, dRMM has become recognised as a pioneer and authority on engineered timber design and construction. In 2013 de Rijke, alongside AHEC and ARUP, invented the first cross-laminated timber made from hardwood. The beauty, strength and sustainability of the material was demonstrated in the form of Endless Stair at Tate Modern for the 2013 London Design Festival. Committed to timber advocacy and making design culture more public/less elitist, in 2020 de Rijke contributed as a design judge to Plimsoll Production’s 6 part series, ‘Good With Wood’ for Channel 4 TV, to be launched spring 2021.

Photograph by Alex de Rijke


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