People's Promenade - Madeira Terraces, Brighton, United Kingdom
Chalk Architects

The Grade II Listed Madeira Arches were constructed in the 1890’s & run along an 850m section of the East Cliff (Madeira Drive) between the Brighton Pier and the Marina. Maderia Drive is zoned for leisure use in the Local Plan and is home to hospitality and leisure businesses. It also hosts many of Brighton’s big ticket events across the course of the year: The Brighton Marathon, The Classic Car run and the London to Brighton Bike ride to name a few.
 
Marine Parade is connected back down to Madeira Drive via 3 stair cases, the Dukes Mound ramp  and the Madeira lift albeit this is embedded into Concorde2 music venue at its base. The arches and balustrade are formed from wrought ironwork, the deck structure is concrete encased wrought ironwork. The materials, form of its construction and lack of maintenance over the years have conspired as one might expect to create a progressively degraded building fabric. The area is now condemned and closed off behind heras fencing
 
This stretch of seafront is critical to the future prosperity of Brighton, as is of course the rest of its seafront -  but this section is most urgently in need of help. Given that public funds are in short supply and that our cities population is expanding rapidly, we desperately need more school places, more affordable housing, more multi purpose public space, more space for employment opportunities. Should such a huge area of the public realm that is used by so few of Brighton’s population be repaired at such great expense without wider strategic consideration? 
 
In early 2014 we began to explore a scheme out of curiosity and at our own risk, it was literally spawned over a coffee via a sketch on a napkin. The idea was simple but huge in its intent. Our proposal is to create a new public realm for the Kemptown seafront: A peoples promenade along what would be the new “Kemptown Lawns” – see image 1. Taking our inspiration from the work of landscaping genius Piet Oudolf http://oudolf.com/ and his work on the HighLine project in New York http://www.thehighline.org/ we are proposing a new, large, dynamic, versatile and green open space stretching the length of Marine Parade. Set on the seaward side of the road the space is created by taking space of the lower Madeira Terrace level and raising it to the Marine Parade level see image 2. 
 
The void created beneath will be filled with a series of new buildings that will incorporate the detail and structure of the existing arches. It is a simple concept that has a big outcome. We have tested a number of potential uses for the new building and have concluded on maker space, retail & hospitality uses at the Madeira drive level and office and hotel uses at the upper. Practically the office users will help create the day to day foot fall to anchor reliable trade for the retail and hospitality spaces at ground floor.
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