HawkinsBrown Architects have been appointed by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to design the new Thames Estuary visitor attraction.
“Following a robust procurement process, I am delighted to announce that we have appointed HawkinsBrown Architects to design the new Thames Estuary Experience,” says Councillor Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy.
The £40 million attraction will be built on Western Esplanade, overlooking the estuary at Southend-on-Sea. It will be dedicated to the history of the River Thames and the maritime heritage of the estuary. The attraction will cover 10,000 square metres and will include a museum, a planetarium, a restaurant, retail outlet and multi-storey parking.
The original museum proposal was conceived in 2009 by AEW Architects. Planning permission was granted three years later. Hawkins/Brown will refresh the original proposal. The company is an award-winning architectural practice with offices in London and Manchester. It specialises in designing innovative buildings that connect with their surrounding communities.
“As well as offering a competitive bid for the project, we were very impressed by their previous experience of delivering high-quality buildings,” says Ann Holland. “They showed an excellent understanding of the challenges and opportunities surrounding a project such as this and we were struck by their obvious enthusiasm and vision for the new attraction.”
She states that HawkinsBrown will now start working closely with colleagues in the museums service to develop plans. “By next summer, we hope to be in a position to submit a new planning application for the scheme,” says Holland. “Throughout the process, we will work with a range of key partner organisations, including the people of Southend, giving them the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and comments.”
She stresses the importance of the venue for the “internationally significant” finds unearthed when the tomb of the “Prittlewell Prince” was uncovered in Southend-on-Sea. Other important finds that will be on show include those from the 17th century shipwreck of The London.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the regeneration of Southend seafront,” says Hazel York, Partner at HawkinsBrown. “The new building will provide a destination for locals and visitors alike, celebrating Southend’s rich heritage as well as broader stories of the Thames Estuary.”
The building will not only serve as a museum of national significance. The structure will also stabilise the cliffs and is set to reconnect the surrounding gardens of the Cliffs Pavilion and Pier Hill. It is thought that the first phase of the project will construct seafront parking facilities. This will help generate some of the income for the museum construction.