Birnbeck Island architectural competition

Property developer Urban Splash has launched an international architecture competition to bring life back to Birnbeck Island and Pier, a faded tourist attraction at the seaside resort of Weston-Super-Mare, England.

The deadline for submissions is 9 November. Full details follow:


Issue Date: Tuesday 14 August 2007


Urban Splash has today launched an international architecture competition to find a team bursting with inspiration and ideas to bring life back to Birnbeck Island and Pier in Weston-super-Mare.

The competition is organised by Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Urban Splash is working with North Somerset Council, Birnbeck Pier Regeneration Trust and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

The remarkable site is in north Weston-super-Mare and was completed in 1866 and was designed by the great pier builder Eugenius Birch. Over the years it has played host to thousands and thousands of holiday makers, Paddlesteamers used to ferry people to and from Wales with the last journey made in 1979 and even the Beatles spent time at Birnbeck back in the day. But the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) has a fully operational station on the island which has been there for 125 years.

Urban Splash wants to create a fantastic development with public access, new attractions and facilities to draw more residents, workers and tourists to Weston-super-Mare.

“Birnbeck is an outstanding site,“ said James Howard, associate director, Urban Splash (South West). “We’re really hoping to attract the best architects from around the world to create the special new Birnbeck, which it so thoroughly deserves."

The competition will be carried out in two stages with the 9 November 2007 as the deadline for submissions. The judges will then select a short list of 6 who will be invited back for second stage interview. Urban Splash intends to invite local people to comment on the short list and their comments will be fed back to the judges. It is expected that a winner will be announced in early 2008.

The full judging panel is as follows:

  • George Ferguson, Acanthus Ferguson Mann and RIBA Competition Chair
  • Jeremy Gould, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (cabe)
  • Sir Neil Cossons, former Chairman of English Heritage
  • Colin Molton, Deputy Chief Executive, South West Regional Development Agency
  • Will Alsop, Director, Alsop Design
  • Fred Taggart, Director, Prince’s Regeneration Trust
  • Charles McCann, Chairman Birnbeck Pier Regeneration Trust and Friends of the Old Pier Society; Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, Deputy Leader and Executive Member Strategic Planning, Highways and Economic Development, North Somerset Council
  • David Turner, Director of Development and Environment, North Somerset Council
  • Jonathan Falkingham, Chief Executive, Urban Splash
  • Jason Collard, Managing Director, Urban Splash (South West).

Says Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, Deputy Leader and Executive Member Strategic Planning, Highways and Economic Development, North Somerset Council: “I think it is a great idea to mount a design competition. It reflects the importance of the site and its unique location as the only island in the country connected to the mainland by a pier. It also acknowledges the keen interest shown in the future of Birnbeck by local residents and the possible role the island can play in the regeneration of this area of Weston-super-Mare."

The competition brief will be available from RIBA Competitions Office from 19 August 07. Anyone wishing to submit an entry must register with the RIBA Competitions Office to receive an official ‘declaration form’. Only entries accompanied by a declaration form will be considered. To register and receive the form send a cheque for £50.00 (inc VAT), payable to ‘RIBA Competitions Office’ (note: no credit card facilities).

RIBA Competitions Office, 6 Melbourne Street, Leeds LS2 7PS
T: 0113 2341335 F: 0113 2460744 Email: riba.competitions[at]

Further information is also available at the website dedicated to the competition: