Birnbeck Island

Urban Splash, International Architecture Competition

Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd · Birnbeck Island
Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd

Seaside towns and ports encapsulate the romance and character of the British landscape. For over two hundred years, they provided an escape from centres of industry. Ordinary and exotic co-existed side by side and discovering the extraordinary in the ordinariness is what excites the curious visitor.

Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd · Birnbeck Island
Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd

Birnbeck Island has been used as a steamer pier, a weapons testing site, and home to a pier head ride with recreational facilities. This proposal takes advantage of the isolated location, the perfect setting for a hedonistic life-style based on health and well-being. It includes a tower hotel and restaurant, therapeutic baths with thalassotherapy, training, and fitness facilities, and beauty and health spas.

Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd · Birnbeck Island
Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd

The proposal reinforces the processional bridge access to the island, enhancing the final destination through an extraordinary mechanistic structure that incorporates and interlocks with the remnants of the Victorian infrastructure of buildings and piers. Its architectural elements are expressed as a steam engine whose qualities are further articulated in the details of the design. The project generates power by harnessing the energy of the spectacular tides, wind and sun. The complex structure combines machine aesthetic and dynamic components with the functions as a working engine. This is achieved by the flooding of basins and drive turbines. The resulting engineered clashing geometries extend and enhance the spectacular approach to the cantilevered walkways and terraces. Viewed from a distance it has the dramatic quality of a drilling rig set against the horizon.

Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd · Birnbeck Island
Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd

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