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Catching the wave of a visionary, inclusive and purpose-driven destination

The Wave Bristol
The Wave credit Global Shots hero

1,000

Waves per hour

£25m

Surfing lagoon

100%

Renewable electricity

Winner of Cultural & Leisure Project of the Year at the British Construction Industry Awards 2020, The Wave is an inland surfing destination born out a passion for technology, nature and human health, and striving to be a force for positive change.

The Wave is a ground-breaking inland surfing destination and Europe’s first full-size surfing lake, using pioneering technology developed by the Spanish firm, Wavegarden. From its crowdfunded beginnings, shoulder-to-shoulder, we were involved in the development of The Wave in Bristol, providing a full complement of multi-disciplinary engineering services.

Whilst The Wave isn’t the first artificial surfing lake, its technology does make it a world-first. It’s capable of providing up to 1,000 waves per hour — around a wave every 10 seconds — and generating heights between 0.5m and 2m.

The £25m surfing lagoon project is powered by 100% renewable electricity and delivers the opportunity to surf all year round, independent of weather conditions and tides.

The facility includes six different surfing zones offering waves of different size and power for up to 80 users at one time. Encouraging an inclusive surfing experience, it’s designed to be accessible to those with even the most severe disabilities.

The Wave also houses a surfing lake, clubhouse, restaurant, family-friendly camping grounds, woodland walks, and food and sensory gardens.

Our multi-disciplinary expertise was instrumental in supporting the project from conception through to detailed design, including being appointed as Principal Designer. The Wave was awarded Green Building Project of the Year at the 2020 BusinessGreen awards, and also won the Cultural & Leisure award at the BCIA awards in the same year.

The smiles we get out of people coming out of this lake … if that’s the currency we are putting out into the world, that’s really exciting.

Nick Hounsfield
Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, The Wave

The site required us to deliver a number of technically challenging and collaborative solutions provided by our structural, geotechnical and civil infrastructure teams. These challenges included:

  • Extensive and innovative design work around the management of both ground and surface water and its effect on the final design, as the site is close to the Severn Estuary and its floodplains.
  • The design of the structural elements of the lake, including a fibre reinforced bathymetry slab, significant retaining walls and most notably a 100m viewing pier that extends into the lake for visitors and spectators.

The design showed consideration for environmental concerns when choosing materials and methods of construction. This included the use of timber-cladding, sustainable wood insulation and solar thermal panels which minimised the carbon footprint as much as possible.

A sustainable solution

From the outset, there was a clear vision to create a destination that champions sustainability and the natural environment.

The Wave’s sustainability strategy was based on a triple bottom line approach, balancing social, environmental and economic factors, with an emphasis on ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’.

Leading environmental activist, Chris Hines MBE, and co-founder and director of Surfers Against Sewage, set the sustainability agenda. Understanding what ‘good’ looks like for a surfing destination, Chris was instrumental in working with the engineering and construction team to make The Wave a place that delivers positive change.

Related specialisms

Strategic Projects

Our multi-disciplinary expertise was instrumental in supporting the project from conception through to detailed design, including being appointed as Principal Designer.

Civil Engineering

Our site-wide drainage strategy, including a geo composite drainage layer, was designed to remove hydrostatic pressure when the lake is empty.

Structural Engineering

Our team designed the structural elements of the lake including a fibre reinforced bathymetry slab, significant retaining walls and, most notably, a 100m viewing pier that extends into the lake for visitors and spectators.

Geotechnical design

Two phases of ground investigation culminated in a Geotechnical Design Report and Earthworks Specification. General fill was placed in landscaping areas with structural fill used behind the retaining walls and beneath the clubhouse, reducing the amount of concrete and therefore the carbon footprint of the scheme.

A key consideration in our geotechnical designs was the dynamic loading on the pool when in use, as well as the dead loads applied when the pool is full but not in use.

Drainage strategy

We developed a site-wide drainage strategy, including a geo composite drainage layer that is just 4mm thick to remove hydrostatic pressure when the lake is empty. This innovative design solution led to significant savings, both in terms of carbon and costs.

To lower the water table beneath the lake, our gravity drainage system feeds into the local drainage network, with a new ditch included in the design. Replicating this system at the rear of the retaining walls means that when the lake is periodically emptied for maintenance, it continually dewaters, addressing the potential flotation of the concrete-lined lake when empty.

Award winning

The Wave gained a huge number of votes to win the People's Choice award in the Institution of Civil Engineers South West Civil Engineering Awards 2020. It was also awarded Green Building Project of the Year at the 2020 BusinessGreen awards and won the Cultural & Leisure award at the BCIA awards in 2020.

Images courtesy of Global Shots

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