Ashore — Architecture Competition by

Ashore: Architecture Competition seeks ideas and projects Eco-sensitive pier design challenge held by UNI

Fig: 1 — Coastlines are popular destinations for travel in every region.

Escaping into nature

The need to unwind after a very long day of work is common for all human beings. To escape, we tend to look for places with tranquil or calm surroundings, and these are very difficult to find in modern cities. The ‘concrete jungle’ is a land of opportunity and work, but inept for leisure.

So, our quest for relaxation takes us to natural landscapes such as mountains, beaches or forests, for peace and quiet. Owing to their popularity, we earmark some of these habitats and make them hospitable with hotels, viewpoints, trekking paths, and so on, to accommodate the many visitors in comfortable settings.

As a result, Ecotourism emerged aiming to provide an undisturbed experience of eco spots. The focus was not just on the audience, but also the environment to ensure responsible travel, with no harm inflicted on habitats. But like with every industry, the more traction the travel and tourism industry gained, the more commercialized it got. The purpose behind it started vanishing, beyond the cloud of profits.

How can growth and ecotourism be conceived together in the same frame?

Fig: 2–85% of tourism-related revenue in the US goes to coastal states due to the intense tourism activity in the area.

Can eco-tourism be eco-conscious?

The modern era is marked by industrialization and its effect in shaping the city and its economy. The amount of infrastructure developed for various purposes continues to overwhelm the city event today. The paradox is real because people come to these tourist destinations to get away from the city, but things are going the other way round. The incessant building is serving the contrary.

Apart from urban settings, infrastructure is also important for the ecotourism industry. In locations such as sunset points, seashore piers, and biking trails, the building is simple; but the ecological part usually is taken for granted. The economic and functional aspects take over and that requires an overhaul.

Leisure for humans is not just about their surroundings but more than that, it is comfort and convenience. Attempts are being made to change the interface between humans and nature, but this can be achieved only with holistic design.

In such a case how does one reinvent a leisure spot, in a way that is both evolving, universal, and in cohesion with nature?

Fig: 3 — Piers are of many styles, with aim of connecting the shore to the sea with an elevated walkway — An impression

Brief of the competition

A pier is sometimes functional like a place to get on and off boats, or many times recreational like a viewpoint or an eating area, and this gives us an opportunity to rethink its environmental standing.

Can piers be more interactive than just being a means to get to the ocean? How can design help carry the subtle message of environmental awareness to the visitors? Can construction be capable of improving the condition of the existing environment? How will the aspects of functionality and aesthetics be managed to create a responsive design?

Brief: Design an eco-sensitive pier that acts as a recreational sport and a viewpoint for the visitors.

The construction is in an eco-sensitive area so the design must have no harmful effect on the site.

The design of the viewing tower at the end of the pier will stand as a symbol to address the stake of humankind in the ocean’s ecological balance.

The relationship between the two entities — nature and humankind can be metaphorical or direct and these choices are left up to the participants to infer.

Competition Objectives

  • Context — Site conditions must be taken into consideration while designing. Materials and construction intricacies are to be maintained as per local convenience.
  • Ecological — The design must use minimal resources and cause the least disruption to the site. Material choice, techniques, layout, and so on, must not cause harm to the site context.
  • Public Function — The view deck must function as a space for leisure and recreation. Awareness of ocean pollution must also be promoted through activity.
  • Landmark — The image of the pier has to attract visitors and promote contemplation of human ways, and sensitize them to ocean pollution, water conservation, and so on.


Fig: 4 — Site image

The United States shoreline is 95,471 miles and a total of 14 states have access to the Atlantic Ocean. 180 million Americans make 2 billion visits to coastal sites every year. The southern state of Alabama has a coastline of 607 miles, with diverse geography of mountains and bays.

The site is located in the port city of Mobile. It is home to many ports and piers, which play a key role in the economy of the region. The cultural landscape is rich with art forms and heritage structures that remain to this date. Events and parades tend to accumulate huge crowds of people and tourists, who visit the local attractions.

The site is located close to the Alabama port, and other coast-based industries. It is at the edge of Bellefontaine Boulevard which gives the site a prime location.

  • Site area — 6288 sqm
  • Height limit — 10m above sea level and 3m below sea level.
  • Columns/supports can go until the bed.
  • Coordinates — 30°29'16.2"N 88°06'08.8"W

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this page: Ashore | Infrastructure Design Competition on UNI | About

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