Architects HAT Projects were appointed to design the project in 2008. The main contractor is Coniston, the structural engineer is Momentum and the services consultant is Skelly & Couch.
The art gallery is part of the regeneration of a former coach and lorry park on the Stade, an area just north of the shingle beach in Hastings Old Town, which is home to the UK’s largest fleet of beach-launched fishing boats. Around £9m is being invested in the site, with just over £4m coming from the Jerwood Foundation.
The main entrance is located to the north of the gallery and the building fronts onto Rock-A-Nore Road and the Grade II listed Georgian East Cliff House, with the dramatic rocky East Cliff and its funicular railway rising up behind. The structure has been been kept deliberately low at the front – where the main entrance is located – so as not to obstruct the neighbouring net shops’ distinctive skyline.
Hana Loftus from HAT Projects said: “We were working in a conservation area with unique listed buildings. Our challenge was to design a contemporary building amongst a historical environment.”
The 1300m² two-floor building has a blockwork-timber composite structure at ground floor and timber frame at first floor. A plinth of black/brown coloured glazed terracotta block – 490mm x 65mm face size – was used to encircle the building and varies in height from 400mm from ground level to 1,800mm.
HAT Projects took into account the gallery site’s unforgiving marine environment and selected the robust Agrob Buchtal KeraTwin K15 tile for the cladding, which has a thickness of 15mm and has extruded perforations to reduce the weight. The tiles are 498mm x 212mm to suit a 500mm x 220mm co-ordinating grid, and feature two extruded grooves on the back which allow the tiles to be hung and clipped onto horizontal aluminium rails fixed back to the structural timber studwork.
Hana Loftus pointed out the unique finish to the cladding, which she said was one of the most exciting parts of the project. The glaze for the tiles was designed specifically for the project, and each one of the 8,000 tiles was hand glazed by Robus Ceramics, a Kent based ceramics workshop. The glaze has given the cladding an impressive black metallic sheen. Hana said: “The effect is strikingly beautiful. It is very individual and different.”
HAT Projects also made a significant effort to make the building environmentally friendly. Hana Loftus said: “Our brief stated that the structure was to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. Wherever possible, the construction is timber. Our predictions for the energy use – based on our passive design and renewable energy systems (including ground source heat pumps and natural ventilation) – estimate that the gallery will use 50% less energy than you would expect for a typical art gallery of this size.”
Over the years, the Jerwood Foundation has collated a substantial collection of 20th and 21st century art – including works by Peter Lanyon, Maggi Hambling and Edward Burra – that has never been seen by the public. The gallery will also show temporary exhibitions linked to the Jerwood Visual Arts programme, and there is a cafe on the first floor for visitors.
The Jerwood Foundation has covered all the costs of designing, building and running the art gallery. To fund the Stade masterplan, Hastings Borough Council secured £420,000 from ESCC towards the cost of the transport improvements and another £650,000 from SEEDA. They were also awarded £2m from the Government’s Sea Change fund, which was specifically designed to help regenerate seaside resorts. Hastings Borough Council itself is also contributing £1.7m towards the capital cost of the project.
Independent research has estimated that the project will create over 100 jobs and generate around £10m per year for the economy.