Proposals from 13 local and regional architects and designers included a pedestrianised Hastings seafront with new trams, refurbishment of the Lido site to create a modern bathing pool, an infinity ice rink in West St Leonards and attention-grabbing student accommodation. Architects HazleMcCormackYoung also joined a long line of dreamers to reimagine Hastings Pier as an undulating “sculptural caterpillar” that would move with the tide.
Perhaps the most striking and whimsical exhibit was DD Architects’ “Kype Steps to Nowhere” – a stairway to the open sky, carved into a series of huge, precariously balanced solid blocks jutting out from West Hill. While hard to imagine such a project ever gaining planning permission, the audacious design admirably fulfilled its aim to “recreate the engineering marvels of the Victorian period”, taking Hastings’ much-loved funicular railways as a starting point.
On the whole, the community’s suggestions steered clear of the professional designers’ statement pieces, opting instead for practical plans to improve everyday liveability. There were requests for showers and drinking fountains on the beach, play/hangout spaces, exercise parks, allotments and a park and ride scheme for commuters. The future imagined by the community also emphasised creativity through art hubs, designated performance and busking posts and a legal graffiti wall. Notes ranged in tone from the quietly ironic (“A harbour?”) to extremely enthusiastic (“MORE CYCLE LANES! like Amsterdam! haha!”)
There are plans to take the exhibition to local schools and colleges in the future. Meanwhile, members of Hastings Trust (membership is free to local residents) are invited to a meeting on 30 September 2014 to evaluate the proposals. Those who did not make it to the exhibition are encouraged to bring their suggestions on the night.