Birnbeck Island

Weston-super-Mare, UK | 27,000 m2
Spa and Fitness Centre
International competition

Project Information

Seaside towns and ports encapsulate the romance and character of the British people. For over two hundred years, they provided an escape from the industrial workplace. Mundane and exotic co-existed there side by side, and discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary has always enchanted the curious visitor.

Birnbeck Island has been used as a steamer pier, a weapon testing area and a pier-head ride with recreational facilities. Our proposal echoes its history both through a conceptual interpretation of leisure and a machine-like aesthetic, taking full advantage of its isolated location and particular weather conditions.

The resulting project is a ‘hedonistic machine’ which incorporates within its mechanisms a boutique tower hotel with a high-end health food restaurant, multi-therapeutic baths with thalassotherapy, training and fitness facilities and beauty and health spas.

Our exploratory proposal reinforces the access to the island and enhances it through an extraordinary mechanistic structure that incorporates and interlocks with the remnants of the Victorian infrastructure of buildings and piers. Its elements are expressed as steam engine mechanisms whose qualities are further articulated in the detail of the design. The project harnesses and generates power through the use of the spectacular tides, wind and solar power. This apparently static geometrical structure combines a machine aesthetic with dynamic components, and by flooding basins and driving turbines, it achieves the attributes of a working engine.

Clashing geometries are engineered to extend and enhance the spectacular high-level approach to the cantilevered walkways and terraces. Viewed from a distance it has the dramatic quality of a drilling rig set against the horizon.

Name: Birnbeck Island
Architects: Matteo Cainer Architects
Location: Weston-super-Mare, UK
Programme: Spa and Fitness Centre
Client: Urban Splash
Project size: 27,000 m2
MCA Principal: Matteo Cainer
MCA Team: Avigael Perez, Nina Bobinac


Weston-super-Mare, UK | 27,000 m2
Spa and Fitness Centre
International competition