Public Realm
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Three Waves

Dover Esplanade Regeneration, 2009

Architect: Tonkin Liu
Clients: Kent County & Dover District Council, DHB 
Location: Dover, UK
Budget: £2 million
Size: 10,000 Sq. meters
Engineer: Rodrigues Associates & Jacob’s
Lighting: Tonkin Liu
Concrete: Thorpe Pre-Cast
RIBA Award 2011
Pre-Cast Creativity in Concrete Award

The Dover Esplanade project was conceived as three artworks grown out of their social and environmental context. The Esplanade harnesses the architectural language of Dover’s identity; the gentle nature of waves on the sheltered beach, the rhythmical sweep of the Georgian Seafront Terrace and the undulating topography of the White Cliffs of Dover. The creation of three new bespoke, site-specific sculptural waves brings 
a new interactive dynamism to the esplanade.

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each wave only touches the shore once,
a wave to follow, a wave to rest on, 
and a wave to light your way

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The Lifting Wave is a repeated formation of ramps and staircases made of pre-cast white concrete that rise and fall to connect the Esplanade to the lower shingle beach. Layered miniature steps are arrayed like a fan of cards to create a light-catching textured surface.

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The Resting Wave is a retaining wall that runs the length of the Esplanade, providing bay spaces with seating sheltered from the wind. The shifting system of precast white concrete blocks tilt back and forth in convex and concave forms, creating a textured surface similar to that of the sedimentary strata layers of Dover’s White Cliffs.

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The Lighting Wave is a line of white columns with artwork that complements the sweeping form of the sea wall. Along the length of the Esplanade the columns rise and fall like the froth on the bubbling crest of a wave. The interactive low-energy LED lights create a dynamic wave movement, bringing a sense of delight to the seafront.

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