Birnbeck... a pier into the future

A FESTIVAL venue, hotel, houses or even an 'inhabitable mountain' - what would you like to see on one of Weston's most historic landmarks? The Weston & Somerset

A FESTIVAL venue, hotel, houses or even an 'inhabitable mountain' - what would you like to see on one of Weston's most historic landmarks?The Weston & Somerset Mercury can this week exclusively bring you the images of the six short-listed designs for Birnbeck Pier and its island.Manchester-based company Urban Splash, which bought the site and part of the surrounding land last year, organised a competition for people to come up with some bright ideas for developing the area. A panel of judges has come up with the six designs they consider to be worthy enough to make it through to the final rounds of the contest.Some of the ideas selected for the deciding stages include creating:* A 'Birnbeck Village' with a feature described as similar to that of Table Top Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.* A sustainable development, which uses its own resources for energy.* Seaside holiday accommodation for all price ranges, from expensive hotels to basic beach hut styles.* A music venue for festivals and concerts. * A new island called Pleasure Holm.An exhibition of all the short-listed entries is being held at the Winter Gardens in Weston until Saturday.Members of the public will be able to go along and air their views on the designs.The exhibition will be open today from 11am-5.30pm and on Saturday from 9.30am-2pm.Members of the judging panel, which decided on the six final designs, includes representatives from organisations such as The Prince's Regeneration Trust, the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA), as well as North Somerset councillor Elfan Ap Rees, Birnbeck Pier Regeneration Trust and Friends of the Old Pier Society member Charles McCann and North Somerset Council's director of development and environment, David Turner.The short-listed teams will be invited back for second stage interviews and people living in North Somerset will have the opportunity to comment on the finalists' designs. It is expected that an overall winner will be announced in the early months of 2008.The winning designer will walk away with a prize of £25,000 and then will be paid a commission fee for their work, which could reach a figure of up to £1million.The international architectural competition, which is being run in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects, was open to individuals and teams from anywhere in the world and designs can be purely residential, commercial or a combination of both.THE PROPOSED SCHEMES IN MORE DETAIL:* Birnbeck 1: AOC Architecture, of London, says Birnbeck Island could become an inhabitable mountain, a spectacularly 'natural' landmark. The idea is that Birnbeck and its mountain, like Cape Town and its Table Mountain, would share views of each other and the development would have a range of places to live, work and enjoy, for locals and visitors. The island would provide an exclusively inclusive destination hotel, offering everything from one-star cabins to five-star cliff top retreats. On the mainland the village would offer a range of homes perched on the hillside.* Birnbeck 2: FLACQ Architects, of London, suggest a sustainable development using the site's natural resources to heat, cool, filter, cleanse and grow everything.It could incorporate public spaces and a collection of markets, restaurants and bars, independent retailers and a music venue for festivals and concerts. There would be seaside holidays available from boutique hotel rooms at 'The Lodge' and self-catering stays at the 'Bunk House' to back-to-basics at the 'Beach Hut'. * Birnbeck 3: Levitate Architecture and Design Studio Ltd, of London, proposes to reveal natural rock and create a 'complimentary alternative' to the town's busy seafront. It wants to build a place where people can explore rock pools, bird watch or simply sit and watch the sunset. Historic buildings would be restored and two linear buildings would sit on retained concrete pads, elevated above the rock.A range of residential leisure accommodation is suggested, while on the land a terrace of town houses will provide development revenue. * Birnbeck 4: MOH Architects, of Vienna, wants to build an iconic development but says it wants the open space to become the icon itself, rather than the built space. It wants to 'work with the existing qualities of the site, the historic fabric and the subsequent size constraints'.* Birnbeck 5: Pierre d'Avoine Architects and White Young Green Planning & Design, of Cardiff, suggest making Birnbeck into a small island and renaming it Pleasure Holm, inspired by Steep Holm and Flat Holm. The outside would look like a natural land formation and function as a habitat for flora and fauna. Inside, there would be a range of uses, including luxurious flats.* Birnbeck 6: Richards Partington Architects, of London, wants to create a 'striking inhabited pier on the south of the island'.A public space would integrate new buildings with the restored legacy of times past. A series of terraced structures would connect the existing town with the new quarter and the island.

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