12th June 2019

Behind the scenes: building our Clubhouse

Due to the top secret nature of the lake construction and Wavegarden Cove technology, it's not always possible to show every step of our build. We are, however, able to share other areas of our project as it comes to life. Here's an interview with our architect, Adam Parsons, as we start to finish the construction of our fantastic Clubhouse.

Abby Richardson
Wavemaker - Media Team

We think this building, designed by APG Architects, is just beautiful and it’s been amazing seeing the design coming to life in front of our eyes. It has now completed the ‘topping out’ stage - which means the roof is on - and will very soon be watertight as the windows and doors are going in.

We met up with architect, Adam Parsons, to chat about the Clubhouse, what inspired him when designing it and how he feels seeing it getting close to completion.

Adam, how does it feel to see the building going up?

It’s so exciting to see something you’ve spent hours working on, on paper, become a reality. The first time I saw it properly taking shape, I was like a kid in a sweetshop!

The work is progressing really quickly and every time I visit the site a new element has been completed. The ‘topping out’ was a big milestone. This is a team effort and we are working together to make sure that the quality of the build is exactly what this awesome project deserves. As the architect you always want to ensure that the final building is as close to your original vision as possible.

Can you tell us a bit about how the design was developed and what inspired you?

Our starting point was that the building had to be fit for purpose, robust and an attractive and pleasurable place to be in and around. The building provides a backdrop to the main event of the surfing lake and surrounding landscape. It is designed to be comfortable and frame the views out across the lake.

We also wanted it to have minimum visual impact on the local landscape - and for it to almost blend with its surroundings over time. The Wave is about getting back to nature and in many ways this project is guided by nature. We took this as part of our inspiration when designing the building. It is all about interacting with the natural world so we’ve tried to minimise barriers with the outdoors and maximise a feeling of openness. The development of the landscape around the building was as important as the building itself.

Can you describe the building to us?

It is a single storey timber frame building made from a glue laminated timber frame and cross laminated timber panels. In simple terms; this is an engineered timber frame with very thick (100mm) plywood panels for the roof. All of this timber is exposed and forms the character of the building.

The layout is open plan and offers a really flexible space. We wanted it to feel light, airy and calming when you arrive. The front of the building is almost completely glazed and it opens straight out onto the large terrace which looks onto the lake. There is also a roof terrace where you get the most incredible view of the lake.

How big is the building and what will be inside it?

The building is 1,000 square metres. It's divided into two main areas; a wet side and a dry side. The wet side houses the surf school, surf equipment and changing areas. The dry side will house the cafe-bar, the surf shop area, a welcome area and a meeting space for groups such as schools, colleges and businesses. Externally there is a roof terrace and lower terraces with views over the lake and surf area.

Any favourite areas or elements of the building?

I particularly love the connection between the building and the landscape. The experience of the lake from the building evolves as you move from the entrance space between the wet and dry sides of the building. Each area has a distinct character which provides a number of different experiences.

As you know sustainability is at the heart of our decision making. What was your approach to sustainability?

We always consider sustainability when designing. We created a manifesto at the outset. This helped us to hold ourselves accountable when developing the plans for The Wave.

It outlines commitments such as:

  • Using natural materials wherever possible.
  • Looking to use materials with recycled content.
  • Utilising materials that can be recycled at the end of their life.
  • Always considering the environmental or social impact of materials
  • Minimising energy and water usage, as well as visual impact.

We always think about any future deconstruction during the design phase to try and avoid building materials and techniques that make reuse and recycling difficult.

We have robust waste management systems in place throughout construction. The site has a compound with set areas defined for different materials to be recycled. Minimising site waste has been carefully considered when deciding what materials and processes to use in the build. Also, the off-site manufacturing of the building frame and roof deck helps to maximise precision and quality while minimising site waste.

‘Reduce, reuse and recycle’ has been at the forefront of our design considerations. An example of this in practice is the Clubhouse roof - we’ve used lightweight metal roof material manufactured in the UK to reduce transport emissions; we used a special membrane to provide an airtight seal and reduce heat loss; the Rockwool insulation is recycled at their Bridgend site to be reused in other Rockwool construction products; and the steel roof and membranes are fully recyclable.

Can you give us some examples of elements that make this building particularly sustainable?

We have used wood fibre insulation in all of the walls instead of petrochemical laden foam insulation. This reduces VOC’s (nasty chemicals often present in construction materials) and improves the air quality in the building. The wood fibre insulation can also be fully recycled and is produced from waste timber.

The form of the building has been carefully designed to respond to where it sits on the site. For example, the overhanging roof to the glazed south facade prevents overheating in the summer, yet allows the low winter sun to penetrate the building, so we can make the most of the sun’s warmth at that time of year. The exposed concrete floor then heats up, providing a thermal mass which helps reduce the need to heat the building. The design also maximises natural daylight and minimises artificial lighting requirements.

The sustainable ethos continues in to the landscape, for instance all the soil that was dug out to form the lake construction has been kept on site and is going to be reused to create the landscaping and gardens.

Is there any moment you are particularly looking forward over the next few months?

Having a surf followed by a post-surf drink and some fresh healthy food on the terrace overlooking the lake when it’s all completed!

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