Mumbles Sea Hive

Author:   Ruth Calloway   /   Date:  25/07/2023

The Project


Ove Arup and Partners Ltd

JBA Consulting Ltd

Knights Brown Construction Ltd

Swansea Council CCS

CubeX Industries Ltd

Amey plc

Reckli GmbH

Mumbles Community Council

Swansea Bay’s coastline in Wales, UK, faces a prolonged threat of coastal flooding. To bolster Mumbles promenade and coastal flood defences, a collaborative effort was initiated by the local council, engineering design consultancies, and ecologists. The aim was to explore eco-engineering interventions. This led to a practical experiment, analysing the ecological and societal effects of commercially produced interventions on a vertical seawall.

Mumbles Sea Hive

What we did

The intervention design, dubbed ‘Mumbles Sea-Hive,’ emerged through collaboration involving academia, design engineering, manufacturing, construction industries, local councils, and Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Hexagonal panels, featuring 13 distinct commercial patterns made from Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC), were affixed in a beehive arrangement to the seawall. The experiment aimed to evaluate patterns’ colonisation by fauna and seaweeds under varying submergence times and wave exposures.

Monitoring from June 2021 to August 2022 revealed colonization disparities across the three sites due to wave exposure, emphasising the significance of submergence and exposure. Patterns with protruding ledges and rough microstructures proved more successful than smooth architectural designs in fostering colonization.

Public support for eco-engineering interventions was demonstrated through a questionnaire, with preferences for patterns mimicking natural textures and a mix of designs on the seawall. The Mumbles sea-hives gained popularity among local schools, hosting over 200 pupils who learned about climate change, sea level rise, and biodiversity.


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Ultimately, the success of this experiment led to the integration of eco-engineering interventions into the final design of the new Mumbles coastal protection scheme, highlighting the practical impact of community involvement and collaborative efforts in driving sustainable coastal solutions.

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