At Passenger Clothing, we know how frustrating it can be when the surf doesn’t deliver as promised. But what if we were to tell you that there’s a solution to all your surfing woes and it’s just around the corner? Nick Hounsfield and Tobin Coles are two friends from Bristol, who have just been granted planning permission to build the UK’s very first wave garden in the South West of England.
The open-air development, known simply as The Wave, is expected to be a 450 x 80 metre man-made lake that guarantees perfect waves on tap. With waves being produced every 90 seconds at a height of up to 1.6 metres high, surfers will be able to ride for up to 55 seconds. When we heard about this development, we just had to speak to the guys behind the idea. We caught up with Nick Hounsfield for a rather exciting chat about the project.
You guys have just been granted planning permission to create the UK’s first wave garden. What was your inspiration behind The Wave? How did the idea come about?
The inspiration came from the desire to take a staggering piece of engineering/technology and deliver it as a hub for social change. We wanted to challenge the norm, bring people together and reconnect people with the outdoors by sharing the good vibe we get from surfing and being in water. Many people in our city have never even been to the beach, so it was time to bring the beach to the city.
On your website, you guys say that you’re ‘community centric’ in your vision. What does community mean to you in terms of surfing and location?
It's about finding out what the needs and demands of the local community are. It might be jobs, space, facilities, opportunities. We are pretty sure local surfing communities want access to waves, more often and with less travel! Then combine these and you have a community/socially sustainable project which generates pure stoke.
One of your videos makes reference to a ‘wave of change’ and quotes an interesting statistic from Natural England, citing that fewer than 10% of children play in wild outdoor places. How important is the next generation of UK surfers to you and how do you see The Wave inspiring young people in the UK?
There are two issues here:
1. There is a growing need to break the social norm of too much TV and computer time for kids. They are becoming disconnected from nature, fearful of managing risk, wrapped up in cotton wool and live in a society that hampers independence. We want to help look at some of these issues and help give some of this rite of passage back to kids. We want to empower them, teach responsibility and bring a bit more fun into their lives.
2. Surfing kids are pretty well connected to nature and many of the kids we know who are the future generation of UK surfing are already amped on nature and the living world. The Wave hopes to foster young talent and aid them in technical progression. The plan would be that these kids can inspire others to take up the sport.
As well as The Wave, I understand that you plan to offer other activities around the site too including a natural swimming lake, barefoot trails and an educational space for school visits. Could you tell us a bit more about these activities?
To be fair, none of these activities are anything new as a concept, but the ability to attract many people onto the site and deliver them as a healthy, outdoors adventure; having an educational space means that there is something for everyone. Not everyone likes water, so there need to be other ways to engage people with the outdoors; it might be foraging, woodland school, gardens, food or just playing.
You guys have a strong ethos of environmental sensitivity. How has this value helped shape your vision for The Wave?
It shapes the way we think, design, develop and operate. We have a clear vision. Triple bottom line sustainability. 1. Be financially sustainable 2. Be socially enhancing 3. Be environmentally responsible. If we get the balance right with all these things in all decisions, we should be successful and be doing the right thing. Once we have been running for a while me want to be unashamedly profitable but maximise the social and environmental benefits.
It sounds like the project is going to be quite a feat of engineering. What do you foresee as being the biggest obstacle in its construction and development?
Until now we would have said planning, but we have now overcome that process. Personally, water quality and maintenance is the biggest challenge, although we have the best people working with us on this aspect.
When are you hoping to have the project completed by?
Mid to late 2015 we hope to be pushing waves and look forward to you guys coming and giving it a try, it'll be a game changer, no doubt.
To see how the guys are getting on with the development, have a look at their website and then head back over here to tell us what you think of this much anticipated project – We’d love to know what you think.