It’s Brand Shiny New up North…

The V&A Dundee

The striking new building overlooking the river Tay in Dundee is the long-awaited outpost of the V&A museum. Externally the huge edifice looks like it’s just about to set sail over the Tay and away to Sea, with a pronounced prow paying homage to the past industry of Dundee. That past history includes being the home of kids comics through the ages, although most of those are now online, rather than being bought at the newsagents with weekly pocket money!

Inside the V&A Dundee

Like many infrastructure projects this was over time and well over budget, mid-build the £45m budget doubled. Somewhat confusingly every man and his dog (no, not you Gnasher!) have contributed to the cost except seemingly the V&A. Well that’s big brands for you.

Northern Resurgence with the Northern Spire

Like the Northern Spire, this is a shining symbol of renewal and regeneration. Could it herald a revival for the City much as being the City of Culture last year did for Hull. Or will it be a Hasting Pier job, which slipped into administration late last year (2017). The pier, which was restored with the help of  £11.4m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, has now been sold to a local businessman for £50,000, despite a local campaign run by Friends of Hastings Pier to buy the pier for the local community, which raised £477,000.

Northern Spire 2
Northern Spire, Sunderland

While this initially looks idiotic it is the huge maintenance costs that do the damage. The pier’s administrators, noted that significant cash for working capital and investment purposes, amounting to more than £1m, would be required to make the pier sustainable. So it’s making such things sustainable, and not just parachuting in a glossy new building that is required.

Hastings Pier

So once you get over the shock that the prestigious Stirling Prize for architecture was awarded to a Pier rather than a more conventional building (sic) it’s refreshing that something so English, so old-fashioned with its seaside connotations, should be rewarded for re-invigorating and modernising the concept.

Hastings Pier

So what can a modern re-working of a pier do? There seems to be limitations to the actual potential of such a building. Really what can you do with a long line of wooden planks facing over the roiling sea?

Well they seemed to have created a rather large space, that is multi-functional. So they can hold various events and activities there. And there is the deck building which provides the ocean vista. Another plus factor for awarding this building is that we like the idea of restoring something. Hastings pier had been destroyed by fire in 2010 and the resulting re-build process, including lottery funding and a crowd-sourced campaign ensured the modern pier re-opened in April 2016.


Mind you the other 5 buildings seemed to offer little in the way of competition. Monolithic concrete blocks, with Glasgow’s audition for a Russian Kremlin building, and a photographic studio you would want to shoot yourself to get out off, and buildings that seemed to just shuffle into designated spaces but not really occupy their own space. So a pier it is.

Don’t drop your ice-cream on it, it’s an award winner!