Birnbeck Island

Role: Designer  -  Location: Weston-Super Mare, UK

Birnbeck Island has the potential to literally blossom with activity and life – both programmatically, through the creation of a truly hedonistic island of leisure with clubs, concerts, spa and hotel – and naturally, with the development of a series of thematic and distinctive gardens that mirror the natural landscapes of the region. Birnbeck Pier’s history is re-imagined as a 21st Century Victorian Pleasure Garden, where landscapes of Fun stretch over a multi-programmed architectural lattice of entertainment, recreation and event spaces.


image by workac

Formal inspiration comes Birnbeck_Marinafrom sources as diverse as the clumps of mussels found in the Severn Estuary, and the rock formations of East Quantoxhead. The architecture design concept is to create a significant new statement for Weston Super Mare through an architectonic “burst” of diamond-shaped programmatic elements that radiate out from the island into the sea and mud. Each “chip” is deep enough to support abundant plant life as a green roof and create generous space within it.
Programmatically, the existing pier is restored as a event promenade that passes over event spaces, and through a series of landscapes and garden spaces. From arcades to cinemas to boutique hotels the pier is active 28 hours a day.  The spirit of the classic seaside pier is reinterpreted and follows Jekyll and Hyde logic of family friendly days and flashy nightlife, with the added twist of occasional tidal-cycle-based events.Birnbeck_Auditorium

Birnbeck’s legacy of entertainment is restored as a hyper-programmed destination of unexpected fun and excitement; like a working city. A pleasant collection of British landscapes, viewing gardens and recreational landscapes weave through and around the logic of architectural program as it dissipates into the sea; lighted – like markers in the landscape.


image by balmori associates

We also propose a “water-cleaning tower” on the lot on the mainland, that integrates underground parking for the island, an information and ticket booth and all of the required sustainable systems, including plants that will filter the island’s grey water naturally and a co-generation plant producing power from tides and wind. This green tower will serve as the beacon for the new development. The island is a self-sufficient living machine.

The tower also hosts our concept of “roller coaster as mass transportation,” which ascends the tower, and after reaching the top, rockets down across the bridge to deposit visitors in the heart of the new Pleasure Gardens.


image by workac

Balmori Associates team includes- Project Manager: Mark Thomann, Designers: Angela Soong, Alice Feng  /  in collaboration with WorkAC Architects

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