Birnbeck Island Competition

Year: 2007

WAG: Architects

Project Description: Ideas competition for development of a derelict but listed island resort and bridge/pier for UrbanSplash.

Estimated contract sum: N/A

Our latest competition submission for this exciting new project. Unfortunately, WAG was not shortlisted to procure project further. To see other entries/winner please visit RIBA competitions office.

Wag Birnbeck Print
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Site Analysis:
Weston-Super-Mare operates efficiently during the holiday season, but has a lot of spare capacity for the rest of the year. Part of the brief we set ourselves is to develop a business model for Birnbeck Island that can use this spare capacity as an opportunity.

Create a destination that supports and attracts the existing tourist market during the summer season, providing cafes, restaurants art, live music etc. For the rest of the year, the island operates as a new university and business think tank venue, specialising in ecology, new media art, IT – partnering with local hotels to use spare capacity as student accommodation..

1. Renovate the pier and the listed buildings on the island to provide cafe and restaurant facilities, fully online etc
2. Remove concrete pillars and platform, and build a new, state of the art, semi submerged auditorium – acting as a music venue in season and a lecture theatre etc for the rest of the year
3. Insert a new crane/funfair like structure, which can unfold to provide lighting, AV, umbrella etc functions as required
4. Create a field of wave/wind powered lights, across the local bay

The geographer and cultural theorist Manuel Castells has argued that our contemporary condition can be described as a “bipolar opposition between the net and the self”, and he has suggested that if we are to take control of our futures, and the futures of our cities, then we need to build what he calls “bridges” between what he calls “the space of flows” (ie global information and capital networks) and the “space of places” (ie the real, local world and its ecologies). He argues that places that do not robustly plug themselves into the global space of flows risk economic and social stagnation. Our approach bridges these spaces, by working with ecological models that combine and synergise natural and social ecosystems.

In developing this proposal we have applied best practice thinking regarding sustainability, which is defined as working to the triple bottom line: People, Planet and Profit. We have developed a business model that turns problems with the local economy into opportunities, generating new business, culture and training.
The light field is a self powering system. We have maintained all of the important existing fabric, and have only introduced new structure where it can provide most value (all detailed specification will be according to Cradle2Cradle principles). We believe that there are opportunities for site micro energy generation – probably solar water heating and wind power… but to be determined….

Birnbeck Island Bridge Ecology is an IT hub… kitted out with the latest AV, on-line and media interface gear
Media of all kinds are organised across the island according to Democratic Billboard principles: partnerships are formed with local councils, business and indeed multinational corporations. Space and time usage of the media infrastructure is allocated as:
20 % Art
20% BIBE
10% Local news/information
30% Local advertising
20% Global advertising