Will Juice succeed where Zaha Hadid faltered?

Swansea’s shell-like Tidal Lagoon Centre set to be as controversial as Cardiff Bay Opera House?
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Swansea Offshore Tidal Lagoon Visitors Centre - Juice
Swansea Offshore Tidal Lagoon Visitors Centre - Juice

Zaha Hadid’s ambitious plan for a Cardiff Bay Opera House (with its buildings arranged like jewels around an opera singer's neck) came under pressure from local politicians in the 1990s and the building was never built.

London-based Juice Architects is hoping for a less hostile reaction to its own interesting proposal. The London-based firm has come up with the concept for an Off-Shore Tidal Lagoon Visitors’ Centre. Located 3.5km off the coast in the Severn Estuary, it will form part of the world’s first man-made energy-generating lagoon. The term ‘tidal lagoon’ means a “harbour-type structure closing off a tidal sea area, and incorporating hydro turbines through which the sea moves to generate electricity”, according to the scheme’s initiator, Tidal Lagoon Power.

 

Swansea Offshore Tidal Lagoon Visitors Centre - Juice
Swansea Offshore Tidal Lagoon Visitors Centre - Juice

The client points out that “The Severn Estuary holds the second highest tidal range in the world and within this Swansea Bay benefits from an average tidal range during spring tides of 8.5m. This tidal range offers significant potential for the extraction of renewable energy through the construction of tidal lagoons and is an exciting opportunity for Wales and the UK.”

 

Swansea Offshore Tidal Lagoon Visitors Centre - Juice
Swansea Offshore Tidal Lagoon Visitors Centre - Juice

The team at Juice is proposing an oyster shape for the centre, partly because the oyster has a special meaning for Swansea, and partly as a form of protection against wind and rain. To add to its durability, Juice would construct the shells out of textured concrete. This would be contrasted inside, as the walls of smooth plaster would have “an almost pearlescent finish, reminiscent of the natural make-up of oyster shells”, say the architects.

 

Swansea Offshore Tidal Lagoon Visitors Centre - Juice
Swansea Offshore Tidal Lagoon Visitors Centre - Juice

This leisure and educational venue would sit on a man-made ‘island platform’ featuring rock pools for intrepid visitors. Juice is expecting 70,000-100,000 visitors a year, with the lagoon wall itself becoming a magnet for cyclists, walkers and runners. For more, go here.

If this has piqued your interest please take a look at our books Vitamin Green, The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century Architecture, the Phaidon Architecture Travel Guide App, and our recently launched Online Atlas. You can sign up for a free trial for that here. And remember to always buy the books from the people who made them


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