The Dover Esplanade by Tonkin Liu, The Creation Of The Three New Waves

The Dover Esplanade pillar architecture designThe Dover Esplanade pillar architecture design

The Dover Esplanade which is Kent, England-based is completed re-designed by Tonkin Liu, a London-based design studio. The architect is gives a radical overhaul to Dover’s Esplanade. The project is conceived as three artworks which have grown out of their social and environmental context and the way they are constructed. This new Esplanade is officially opens on 4 November 2010. The winning scheme in a design is Lifting Wave, Resting Wave and Lighting Wave. The design competition is organized by the Landscape Institute on behalf of Dover Harbour Board, Dover District Council, Kent County Council, SEEDA and English Heritage. The project is part funded by Sea Change, a DCMS programmed which is managed by CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) to drive the creative cultural regeneration in England seaside resort.

Which connects to the Eastern and Western docks, this project which spent £2 million is covers an area for about 3,500 square meters and it is creates a new promenade. A new Sea Sport Center is located to the west of the Esplanade while in the east, a crossing linked to a tunnel which is connect the seafront to the central town square. The Waterloo Mansion, a listed 5-storey regency terrace dating from 1834 is backing the Esplanade. The existing Esplanade is recognized as an important amenity for Dover residents but it is lacked a sense of place and failed to make an attraction of the sea front which is being the first encounter with the town for many ferry and cruise passengers.

Lifting Wave, Resting Wave and Lighting Wave

The architect is searching for the solutions which are specific to place, people and the time through a unique design methodology which called asking, looking, playing and making. They investigate the character and the potential of the place and make the proposition which is particular to that place and the people which will use it. The architectural language of the Dover’s identity is harnessed by the Dover Esplanade, it is the gentle nature of the waves on the sheltered beach, and the rhythmical is sweeps of the Georgian Seafront Terrace and the Undulating the Topography of the White Cliff of the Dover. A new dynamism to Esplanade is created by the creation of the three new waves.

The Lifting Wave is a repeated formation of sculptural ramps and staircases made of pre-cast white concrete which rise and fall to connect the Esplanade to the lower shingle beach. It is combines the ramps formed of the miniature steps which is creates a light catching textured surface with a layered steps and spun like a pack of a cards. The gentle ramps both allow access for all and the sinuous line brings the dynamic forms to the beach.  The shingle gardens of the local plant species between the undulating the ramp and the new seawall coping is enrich the experience of going to and from. The rainwater is channeled along to the slatted surface into a gully at the side of the ramp.

The Resting Wave is a sculptural retaining wall which is runs the length of the Esplanade. It is providing the bay spaces with the seating sheltered from the south-westerly wind and orientated towards the sun. The wall itself is constructed by a shifting system of the precast white concrete blocks which is formed in the stacked timber moulds. As a result, it is creating a textured surface which is similar to that of the sedimentary strata layers of the Dover’s White Cliffs. To create shadows, the surface is designed. It is preventing the bright surface from causing a glare and to prevent the fly posting and the discourage tagging. Recessed bays within the wall is incorporates the benches which is made from a weathered oak, which has been shot-blasted and bleached to bring their materiality close to that ocean driftwood. In a system of convex and concave forms, the Resting Wave’ form is tilts back and forth. It is creating a rippled surface which is catches the light. Undulating raised lawns follow the curving line of the wall providing a setting for picnics, with trees bringing seasonal color and shelter from the sun.

The Lighting Wave is a sculptural line of the white columns with the artwork which is complements to the sweeping form of the sea wall and the terrace, bringing the improves amenity of the lighting and the programmed lighting sequences to the Esplanade. Along the length of the Esplanade, this column is rises and falls like the froth on the bubbling crest of a wave. It is designed to catch the light of the day as well as being a lighting feature at the night. For the general illumination to the Lifting Wave, it is combines a large flood of light. All are programmed to an intelligent lighting system which is marks the passing of the time with a lighting sequence on the hour and a simplified sequence on the quarter hour. The interactive low-energy LED lights have been specifically programmed to create a dynamic wave movement, bringing a sense of delight to the seafront.

The three waves each make contextual reference to place, responding to the environmental conditions of the seafront location; each fulfill social tasks in the form of physical provision and through psychological association; each explore themes at the scale of the city and at the fine scale of construction detail.


Visit the Tonkin Liu website – here.

Photography by Robbie Polley and Mike Tonkin


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About Nokki

Full time writer on @mabeskidul, love to play guitar, play DotA with @mabeskidul crew, get in touch with me on @ArwanCL Let the music ring to your heart.

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