The Royal Pavilion Southend

The Royal Pavilion Southend

Since opening in 1835, Southend Pier was the town’s pride and joy, attracting visitors from all corners of the UK. However, this once glittering seaside resort gradually fell into decline. Today, the pier is a connected, carbon-neutral social space that reinvigorated the tourist economy and reinstated the civic heart of Southend.

Sculpted by Wind and Wave

In response to an international design competition, the entry, ‘Sculpted by Wind and Wave’, proposed an urban living thoroughfare. Starting as an extension of the high street, this public promenade culminates at the pier head with the Royal Pavilion; a cultural and visitor centre that runs solely on renewable energy, wind power and sea water heat pumps.

Client: Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Location: Southend-on-Sea, UK
Status: Completed 2012
Area: 1,100 sqm (building), 3,000 sqm (landscape)
RIBA East Regional Award 2013, Surface Design Award 2013
Visuals: Luke Hayes

A contemporary attraction with exceptional environmental credentials that has increased visitor numbers and renewed a sense of civic pride.

The Royal Pavilion hosts a busy year-round schedule of exhibitions, film screenings and all nature of live performance and events. The centre, complete with artist studio space, is supported by a restaurant for visitors, while the jewel in the crown is a 500 seat open-air theatre. All elements offer dramatic views of the sea and Essex coastline.

Something for everybody. Not just one building, but several, where different things are happening, attracting different people with different tastes.
Peggy Dewitt, Southend Pier Museum Manager

Building resilience

The cultural centre, theatre and restaurant were arranged to provide shelter, as well as to give the best possible views outwards. Structural elements borrowed their shape from the waves to root the scheme within its coastal landscape. The maritime environment is challenging for most traditional building materials, especially in the long-term. Timber, Corten steel and glass were selected to withstand this tough coastal climate, removing any need for maintenance.

Design development and delivery was in collaboration with London-based practice, Sprunt.

The Royal Pavilion’s contemporary form is a radical deviation from the traditional architecture of Southend. Harmonising with the windswept site, the Royal Pavilion is, once again, a focal point for cultural life in the town.

Contact & Team

Fredrik Peterson

Niels de Bruin

Katarina Hennig

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