The Wave, England’s first inland surfing destination, is a pioneering £25m project which has occupied a good deal of LHC Design’s time, energy and expertise in recent months, and indeed years. The ground breaking venture has been 10 years in the making and is the vision of client, Nick Hounsfield. Opened to the general public in November this year, the Wave’s closely guarded tech can deliver up to 1000 waves an hour, with an ambition to ultimately use 100% on-site renewable energy.
The Wave project isn’t just about the vast surfing lake and innovative tech. LHC’s landscape team has designed, developed and is presently busy with the on-site delivery of a striking and sustainable landscape scheme for this landmark project. With the hard landscape works nearly finished on site, it’s time to move on to the extensive planting scheme which will be completed over the winter, and will begin to reveal its beauty next spring.
Landscape Architects, Ian Richardson and David Entrican worked closely together on the original designs, and when Ian left for pastures new earlier this year, David picked up the reins to continue to design and deliver the landscape scheme.
The Wave has been built on 29 hectares of low grade agricultural land with limited ecological value, at Washingpool Farm, Easter Compton; close to J17 of the M5 and Cribbs Causeway shopping mall.
At the centre of the site sits the stunning 1.8 hectare, 180m long freshwater lagoon. It is surrounded by a network of decking and pathways which provide viewing opportunities all the way around the lake, and then lead off into carefully designed soft landscaping, creating a scheme that is designed into the landscape rather than imposed onto it.
Near the lake the form and structure of the planting beds create a sense of enclosure; for example the Surf School areas are open and visible, yet they also needed a sense and privacy for participants.
The planting closest to the lake has been designed with the ocean in mind. Swathes of ornamental grasses will move with the wind recalling the flow of waves and tide, while perennial planting adds splashes of interest and colour.
Away from the activity of the lakeside a winding path leads through the landscape which has been designed to respond to the location and character of the surrounding area. With the principle of sustainability sitting at the heart of The Wave, LHC’s wider landscape designs set out to provide a variety of visitor experiences, facilitating interactions with the natural environment, enhancing bio-diversity by providing new habitats and offsetting the carbon footprint of the construction of the site through planting extensive areas of native woodland.
Existing hedgerows and trees are being retained and enhanced where possible, and the scheme will ultimately comprise sensory gardens, undulating landforms, native woodland walks and planting, wetland experience, extensive wildflower meadows, and mixed native hedgerow creation. This interesting mix will improve biodiversity and provide habitats for wildlife such as birds, invertebrates, small mammals and bees. There will be links for wildlife out to the wider area and interesting spaces for visitors to interact with the natural world.
A great deal of work has been done to ensure the site is as accessible as possible. The main footpaths around the lake have been very precisely designed with shallow gradients so all visitors, including those in prams, wheelchairs and mobility scooters can enjoy the whole site experience.
Extending this accessibility to the elevated viewing mound and four raised viewing platforms located around the lake was a significant challenge, and one which we’re proud to have achieved. The platforms have been positioned where the most exciting action occurs to provide a great viewing experience for all, whether seated or standing.
Landscape Architect, David Entrican, has also been heavily involved in organising the site layout around the lake; ensuring buildings, surf schools, viewing decks and access roads all fit together within the landscape, with appropriate fencing, mounds and trees to frame views. This has been something of a moving target, as designs developed throughout the build, requiring high levels of coordination with the consultant team which included APG architects, Hydrock engineers, the contractor Andrew Scott Ltd, the client and stakeholders.
David Entrican, Landscape Architect, LHC Design:
“Our involvement in The Wave project is something that we take great pride and pleasure in at LHC Design. Their philosophy of sustainability and working to connect people with nature closely reflects our own, and we’re particularly looking forward to seeing our landscape come to life over the coming months and years as the planting matures, biodiversity increases and visitors enjoy and interact with our landscape experiences.”
To find out more about the philosophy and technology behind The Wave visit their website here