The Greatham Creek Flood Alleviation Project sits between Middlesbrough and Hartlepool and is a vital flood scheme which benefits residents and businesses and provides a significant boost to local wildlife. Already a popular site for bird watchers and those wishing to see the visiting estuary seals, the new scheme also created around 50 hectares of new habitat.
There were existing hides on the site although they had fallen into disrepair and it was felt there may be an opportunity to provide some new facilities as part of the scheme.
The project client, the Environment Agency, the RSPB, and Teesside Environmental Trust awarded the project to a Bam Nuttall Mott Macdonald Joint Venture (BMMJV). By the end of the project, there was a limited budget to fund the hide but determined to deliver the work the BMMJV approached universities with a competition looking for expressions of interest in designing the new hides. Leeds Beckett Universities Abstract Machine Studio and their current MArch students were subsequently selected to develop a proposal.
Several options were considered and finally, two Weathering steel structures were submitted for approval to the client. The design was well received, and SH Structures were approached to manufacture and instal the hides. The structure is made up of a series of triangular panels which are perforated in varying degrees. The holes which were laser cut in the weathering steel plates create dappled shadows which hint at the similar markings on the local seal population. The set out of the perforations provides sufficient solid structure to shield people using the facility whilst remaining transparent enough to allow users to watch and photograph the visiting wildlife. The frame is topped by a series of cantilevered panels that create a degree of weather protection for visitors. The innovative design provides the client with a structure that is fit for purpose but also maintenance free and with a design life of 120 years.
The finished seal and bird hide has become a welcome addition to the area and is used throughout the year by ornithologists and wildlife lovers. The flood protection scheme will have a positive impact for many years with the additional legacy of the little gem of a steel structure that will provide a haven for visitors for many years to come.
What were the challenges and what made the project successful?
The biggest challenge was to deliver something with some architectural merit within the limited budget available. Due to the nature of the project and SH Structures relationship with BAM Nuttall the project was done at cost. The design process involved a degree of mentoring the students to help them deal with the challenges of designing a structure with the geometric shapes formed from weathering steel plate.
The project in numbers
The overall budget for supply and installation of two structures was £100k.