The Littlehaven promenade and sea wall scheme has transformed a stretch of South Shields’ seafront in north east England from a neglected length of coastline into a desirable visitor destination. The scheme demonstrates how a conventional sea defence scheme can, with appropriate innovation in design and attention to detail during construction, be delivered to provide both a robust sea defence function and significant enhancement to a local community.
The project involved the demolition of a failing seawall, on-site reuse of excavated material in raising levels and landscaping of backing land areas and construction of a 500m promenade and sea wall along a new, landward and more sustainable, curved alignment. High quality concrete finishes, bespoke public art and breath-taking streetscape were used to ensure this striking scheme captured the public imagination and revitalised the seafront.
“Sea Defence: The Littlehaven sea defence was part of a major civil engineering scheme to replace the original seawall, which was protruding seawards at its centre, leaving it susceptible to structural damage and wave overtopping. The challenge for the project team was to provide an effective coastal defence which could offer long term protection, whilst transforming the beach, promenade and sea defences along a stretch of South Shields seafront and turning the neglected length of coastline back into a desirable visitor destination. When Aggregate Industries was asked to deliver a cost effective, long-lasting and aesthetically pleased solution for the seawall at Littlehaven, it proved the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the flexibility and diversity of our decorative concrete ranges.” – Aggregate Industries
“Artwork: The chosen ‘song of the sea’ text was an old Northumbrian song ‘blow the wind southerly’ which spoke of watching for the safe return of the Collier sailing ships. The song is blasted into the length of the new seawall. The 18 ton cast concrete ‘Tyne Eye’ sculpture also evokes that sense of longing and includes a line from the song. It also serves a fabulous seat and viewing point. The cast concrete and aluminium ‘Cobble sail’ sculpture serves as a gateway feature drawing people to the new promenade.” – Broadbent Studio
OOBE and artists Broadbent Studio were commissioned by South Tyneside Council and Royal Haskoning to enhance the design of the public realm aspects of a proposed new seawall and promenade at Littlehaven Beach.
The vision is to celebrate the character of the existing setting of the beach which contrasts from open, wild and exposed to sheltered, calm and intimate. The sites unique location where the River Tyne meets the North Sea is also explored as a metaphor for storytelling and the relevance of sea shanties and poetry from the local area.
Artwork and the new Littlehaven branding will be blasted onto the new seawall and unique gateway features will be installed to draw people towards the beach.
We also created opportunities to emphasise the beaches location at the mouth of the Tyne and the massive ships which sail in and out each day – port holes in the gateways and seating frame these views and play on scale. More subtle references to the coastal location are reflected in the shapes of the bespoke seats inspired by diatoms and dunes.
Project name: Littlehaven Promenade
Location: South Tyneside, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 55.004743, -1.423821
Site Area: 2.4ha
Completion Year: 2014
Client / Owner / Developer: South Tyneside Council
Landscape Architects: OOBE Ltd – Unit 12, Canonbury Business Centre, 190a New North Road, London, N1 7BJ, United Kingdom
- Engineers: Royal Haskoning DHV
- Artists: Broadbent Studio
- Ecologists: E3 Ecology
- Contractors: Galliford Try Plc
- Suppliers: Evans Concrete Products Ltd
Text Description: © Courtesy of OOBE Ltd, Broadbent Studio, Landscape Institute Awards
Images: © OOBE Ltd, Steve Mayes