Could Wavegarden’s New Technology Be The Holy Grail In Place-Making?

After last week’s public announcement of the Wavegarden Cove technology, much has been said regarding what it means for the surf industry to finally have such an economically viable wave pool, but what does this new technology mean for the real estate development industry, the ones who will actually be building these wave pools? Specifically the outdoor attractions industry, which at over $219 billion in the U.S. alone, is much larger than the worldwide $13 billion surf industry to put things in perspective.

According to our Director of Design Services, Steve Yuen, the new technology represents not only a vast improvement from the original Wavegarden technology, but it could just be the most exciting new real estate anchor for large-scale developments. Developers often use bodies of water as visual anchors, but never before has a body of water been this entertaining and this profitable in itself.

Steve has spent much of his architecture career as a principal at world renowned architecture firm Group70 International, where he has supervised over $3 Billion in resort, residential, and cultural projects. His unique perspective on resort design and place-making starts and ends with the human experience. With current development trends leaning more towards mixed-use, social connection, and environmental responsibility he’s driving our developments in a direction he’s believed in for decades. Also, career accolades aside, Steve is an incredible human to be around. A humble genius with a truly unique perspective on the world around us. His drawings are so inspiring, that they even made a coffee table book out of them.

Steve designed the original master plan for NLand Surf Park in Austin, TX, in 2013, which incorporated Wavegarden’s “Lagoon” technology, and was intended to be more of a multigenerational attraction than a surfing facility.  The programming around the surf lagoon was drastically altered but the real estate potential remains.  Having designed a surf park with the lagoon technology in Texas, and now doing the same with the updated Cove technology for our next project in California, Steve has a rare overview on the two technologies and how they affect surf park design. He even got to bodysurf the new Cove prototype back in 2016 with Brian Keaulana and had this to say about its potential:

Surf park design rendering by Wavegarden

“The new cove configuration of surf lagoon is a significant breakthrough for 3 experiential reasons:  firstly, the mode of wave generation is more intuitive and natural; with waves breaking towards shore, the sequence of generation and surfing towards a beach creates a natural setting for viewing the waves and the surfing”.

“Secondly, due to the nature of the super-efficient power generation and the use of side walls, the viewing experience of the expert take-off area can be literally within feet of the riders, creating an unheard-of surf viewing experience;”

“Thirdly, the new cove model is a size breakthrough over the old, obsolete and vastly over-scaled rectangular wave foil model.  With the new diamond configuration, scaling the use of the surf lagoon can allow integration into commercial and mixed used centers as never before.”

In Steve’s estimation, the Cove’s smaller, more organic footprint allows for a far more captivating viewing experience, which unlocks potential for the Cove to be utilized in a broader range of commercial developments and sporting venues. Surfing has already been proven as a visual anchor for food and beverage by Tom Lochtefeld’s Wavehouse brand. The only shortcoming being the inferior surfing experience offered by his ‘sheet-wave’ technology.

Wavegarden Cove Demo Center in Spain

“It’s a spellbinding and fascinating anchor that is both visual entertainment and well high-demand adventure sport that may now be scale-appropriate for certain commercial and mixed-use new urbanist centers, as well as the more traditional sports centers containing aquatics and other space-equivalent athletic training and competitive venues such as gymnasia and racquet sports.”

Given the potential for the Cove as a visual, thematic, and revenue generating development anchor, that aligns with current market (millenial) trends, you could argue that such a wave pool has the potential to impact the real estate development in a big way. With the first commercial Cove models set to debut in 2018, we will soon find out how right Steve is.

“In many respects, the new cove represents the holy grail in placemaking.  A surf lagoon in the right scale brings the ocean and its kinetic nature to places of human activity and community, filling a role that has been the small park or square, or European fountain for the last one thousand years, with a dynamic twenty-first century work of art that is part aesthetic, part spiritual, part well being.” -Steve Yuen