The Wave, Bristol

A visionary inland surfing destination using cutting-edge Wavegarden ‘Cove’ technology to provide up to 1,000 waves per hour, with our full range of multi-disciplinary engineering services instrumental from concept stage through to detailed design.

Drone of The Wave credit Global Shots .jpg

From its crowdfunded beginnings, Hydrock was involved in the development of The Wave in Bristol from 2012, providing a full complement of multidisciplinary engineering services.

In collaboration with Spanish technology partner, Wavegarden, The Wave is a ground-breaking inland surfing destination which is Europe’s first full-size Wavegarden facility using its cutting-edge Wavegarden Cove wave-making technology.

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

A landmark destination

Nine years in the making, 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 people of all abilities to experience the joy of surfing, it is designed to be accessible to those with even the most severe disabilities.

The Wave also houses a surfing lake, clubhouse, and restaurant, and from spring 2020 will feature family-friendly camping grounds, woodland walks, and food and sensory gardens.

Hydrock’s internal project management

Coordinated by Hydrock’s Strategic Projects team, our multi-disciplinary expertise was instrumental in supporting the project from conception through to detailed design, including being appointed as Principal Designer.

Multi-disciplinary engineering delivery

Following our initial ground investigation and planning support services, Hydrock was subsequently engaged to deliver geotechnical, transportation, flood risk, civil and infrastructure, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering services. We then took the project through to construction, with a fast-paced programme starting Summer 2018 and completing in Autumn 2019.

Technical challenges

The site has required us to deliver a number of technically challenging and collaborative solutions provided by our structural, geotechnical and civil infrastructure teams. For example, the site is close to the Severn Estuary and its floodplains, which meant extensive and innovative design work around the management of both ground and surface water and its effect on the final design.

Structural engineering design

In addition to the facility’s clubhouse, Hydrock’s structural engineering 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.

Wherever possible, environmental concerns were taken into consideration when choosing materials and methods of construction. The site has been built minimising the carbon footprint as much as possible. The buildings are timber-clad and insulated with sustainable wood fibre. They're also fitted with solar thermal panels that pre-heat water to reduce energy use.

Building services, energy and utilities engineering design

Our building performance engineering team designed external and internal services, IT and communications systems. At the pre-planning stage, our work also included lighting, energy and sustainability, acoustics, noise and air quality assessments. Our in-house utilities team overcame significant power supply issues, offering onsite power generation solutions.

Drainage strategy

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, was developed by our civil and infrastructure team. This innovative design solution saved our client a significant amount in both carbon and financial terms.

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.

Geotechnical design

Two phases of ground investigation by our geotechnical team 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. This again reduced 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.

Hydrock’s partners on this project were APG Architecture, Andrew Scott Ltd for construction, LHC Design for landscape design and Ward Williams Associates as the project manager.

The Wave, Bristol opened in November 2019 and a further site, The Wave, London, is planned for the Lee Valley Regional Park in 2023, to which Hydrock has also been appointed.

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.

Image credits: Main image and images 1 and 2 (below video) - Global Shots, Images 3 and 4 - TNR

For over 20 years Hydrock has delivered award-winning engineering projects across a wide variety of sectors. Contact us today to find out how we can help your business.