#Southend Pier gets a new £3m Cultural Centre
18th May 2012
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Southend Pier gets a new £3m Cultural Centre

Southend Pier's brand new £3m Cultural Centre was successfully craned into position on the pier head today (Thursday 17th May).

The 350sq m building, which was designed by White Arkitekter working in partnership with London-based architects Sprunt, was constructed off-site at Tilbury Docks in Essex.

It was lowered onto a barge at the docks on Wednesday (16th May) and then transported along the Thames before mooring off the pier head overnight in readiness for today’s lift. 

The 170 tonne structure was hoisted onto the pier head at high tide using a 400-tonne marine sheer leg crane.

It will now be clad with an external skin by main contractors Kier before being fitted out ahead of a grand opening this summer. 

The Cultural Centre is the first structure to be added to the pier head since 2000 when a new lifeboat station was constructed.

White Arkitekter worked with structural engineers Price & Myers from the outset to overcome the technical challenges presented by the site.

Contractors Kier oversaw the off-site construction and were tasked with the challenge of managing the 'big lift'.

After being suspended above its foundations the building was gently lowered at a rate of 2mm a minute to mitigate impact damage to the 100-year-old cast iron piles that support the pier.

Once completed the centre will be capable of seating 185 people and house a 40 sq m artists’ studio, café with outdoor terrace and ancillary accommodation including WCs, store and kitchen.

It will host a programme of indoor and outdoor cultural activities, bringing new cultural life to the promenade and reclaiming the pier as the town's main attraction. 

Southend on Sea Borough Council’s Executive Councillor for Culture & Tourism, Derek Jarvis, said: “I am thrilled to bits that the Cultural Centre lift went so well this morning.

“It was a really delicate operation and so much was at stake, particularly as we had never been involved in anything like this before.

“We were concerned about the weather initially but the conditions stayed mild and the whole lift went like clockwork.

“I’d like to thank all our partners – Kier, Price Myers, White Arkitekter, Sprunt, Cyril Sweett and GPS Marine for their endeavours. It was a text book exercise.

“The professionalism and expertise shown by all the partners from the design competition through to the off-site construction and finally the lift was first class.

“I can’t wait until the centre is finished as it will prove a massive asset to Southend’s residents and visitors for decades to come.”

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Claire T

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