Working closely alongside rivers and coastal engineers, ATKINS Landscape Architects created a design that was a true blend of artistry and engineering. The scheme replaces a 30 year old crumbling sea wall with a new 1m high sea defence which will protect over 13,000 properties in the coastal town of Morecambe from sea born flooding events. The three phases embrace over 3.5km length of wall with access break-throughs and up and over permanent access points which were embellished with motifs reflecting local personalities, stories and references to the local context. New surfacing, lighting and furniture also enhance the promenade for residents, walkers, cyclists, visitors and the multiple users of this high-profile seafront commission which forms part of the Lancaster coastal way.
Lancaster City Councillor Janice Hanson,:

“The design is second to none and as well as the protection it provides, the wall has really helped to enhance the promenade and reflect the beauty of its setting in Morecambe Bay.”

Challenge Our challenge was to produce an appropriate design which was robust and beautiful respecting the seafront location and spectacular views across the bay to the Lake District fells to ensure it made a positive visual as well as functional contribution to this resort. We inherited a very narrow constricted site which formed the barrier between a busy seafront highway and a well-used promenade.

Solution To create a place inspired solution with a simple but elegant design employing a sloped faced wall on the promenade side, creating the illusion of a wider prom space. A smooth wall material with a welcoming surface encourages users to run their hand along it to make it more personal and engaging. Warmer tones of colour were used that would respond to huge variations of light effects prevalent on the coast, taking inspiration from the ossified bleached effects found on the shoreline when you come across a washed-up bones or artefacts. Delivery Our multi-disciplinary team of Landscape architects, structural engineers and hydraulic modellers delivered the design through a Design & Build Contract with our contractor partners Volker Stevin within the stipulated cost and time limits. Our concept was to create an elegant, attractive and robust sea defence which forms a key part of the sea front experience and encloses a well-used promenade to encourage more users and to help stimulate the local economy.

Inspiration. We took our inspiration from the exceptional site location and sense of place; we were inspired by its views, its history, its wildlife, its culture and the distinct 1930`s Art Deco elements found around the resort. Our design sought to ventriloquise the place, whilst providing a robust looking defence that could withstand the rigours of sea storms and high public use.

Proposals A series of apertures allow access to the promenade which can be stopped up at storm events. Each aperture responded to various aspects of the sites surroundings to reveal a narrative about the place. A series of permanent “up and over” features punctuate the walls length and were designed to allow permanent access to the promenade via a series of elegant steps and ramps inspired by Art Deco glamour. Material choices were of paramount importance, we selected reinforced pre-cast concrete, marine grade stainless steel, durable hardwood and asphalt for beauty and longevity. Local personality Eric Morecambe is immortalised in a wall relief inspired by the transient sand patterns within Morecambe bay. Overall the wall forms an elegant and sinuous frontage to the resort encouraging use and raising the quality of the public realm.

The wall was created offsite using pre-cast steel shutters and incorporated the use of micro fibres to improve the post-cracking ductility and to also improve abrasion and impact resistance.  We used a sustainable cement in the mix with 50% of it coming from ground granulated blast furnace slag which is a by-product of the steel manufacturing process. Bespoke and preformed aperture design patterns were incorporated into the wall relief, revealing stories from the site, local personalities and architectural details, with angled wall sides highlighting places to meet, which included local street names as well as reflecting the distant hills across Morecambe bay, fixing the design to its location in multifarious ways.

Floods Minister – Thérèse Coffey.

“Morecambe’s new Wave Reflection Wall.. is absolutely fabulous ..the wall has been designed to fit in with the local environment, and also includes a nod to Eric Morecambe. “In addition to protecting 11,400 residential properties, the wall will also reduce the risk of flooding to 2,246 commercial properties and a major highway and promenade, helping safeguard the local economy.

Credits; Simon Ward CMLI, David Wilkinson CMLI, David Millington Photography

Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape Architect (with civil and structural engineering support).
Project location: Morecambe, Lancashire, UK (Marine Road East
Morecambe, LA4 5AF)
Year Built: 2016 – Sep 2018


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