Spanning over seven years from conception to opening, through the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, site constraints and environmental considerations, Northrop became an integral partner in realising URBNSURF's ambitious dream.  

Recognising the critical importance of a unified approach, Northrop appointed an internal design manager to oversee the collaborative efforts of diverse teams including Architects, Landscape Architects and a host of specialist consultants. Embracing the challenge of site constraints, including the complex legacy of a former landfill resting on soft estuarine sediments, Northrop devised a robust structural piling solution to mitigate movement effectively and ensure the structural integrity of the concrete foundations. In the early stages, we conducted thorough bulk earthworks modelling to address lagoon bathymetry requirements from the wave park supplier Wavegarden, as well as installing essential services and drainage systems. This proactive approach allowed us to optimise design elements during the main works phase, ensuring efficient utilisation of resources and minimising disruptions.  

Electrically, the project was a monumental undertaking, requiring precise planning and execution to power the facility's innovative wave-generating technology and illuminate the lagoon for nighttime surfing. With the wave generators alone demanding a tremendous amount of power, the installation of three substations and close collaboration with Ausgrid exemplifies the scale of the electrical infrastructure works.  

Given the large amount of water in the lagoon and the dynamic nature of the site and enormous power requirements, effective earthing was essential to protect patrons and maintenance staff from adverse effects of electrical hazards and reduce step and touch potentials over the entire site. A specialist was engaged to model the earthing design. A 300mm2 diameter copper earth ring cable was installed on the perimeter of the lagoon and connected to the main switch room. All exposed metal, including handrails, structural reinforcing steel and metal platforms were connected to the main earth with this bonding method. This comprehensive approach mitigated the risk of electric shocks and provided stability to the entire electrical system, contributing to the facility's safe and seamless operation. 

The Spanish-patented wave generators from Wavegarden demanded thorough attention and rigorous quality control measures throughout the procurement and installation process in compliance with both Spanish and Australian standards. Innovative features such as plug-in connectors and carefully labeled cabling tunnels ensure a constant flow of power and streamlining the maintenance process. However, the project's true challenge lay in designing lighting that not only met stringent brightness and uniformity requirements but also didn’t encroach and disturb the habitat of the endangered Green and Golden Bell Frogs. Through weeks of design refinement and precise aiming angles the team achieved a remarkable balance between functionality and environmental awareness.  

Northrop's expertise in habitat-aware engineering proved invaluable in addressing contamination concerns from the existing landfill, devising cost-effective strategies to mitigate environmental impact while delivering on project objectives. Collaborating with stakeholders such as Nuwi Wetlands, Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) and Sydney Water, Northrop engineered irrigation processes to manage water flow into wetlands without compromising local ecosystems. 

Northrop demonstrated a profound commitment to the surrounding habitat and community welfare throughout the project. By implementing ecologically aware lighting practices and rigorous water management plans, Northrop ensured minimal disruption while maximising the facility's positive impact on the local community providing the opportunity to learn, practice and enjoy surfing.   

The culmination of Northrop's collaborative efforts resulted in the successful realisation of URBNSURF—a cutting-edge surf facility offering unparalleled wave experiences in an urban setting. From the meticulous engineering of wave-generating mechanisms to the precise design of electrical infrastructure, every aspect of URBNSURF reflects Northrop's unwavering dedication to excellence and innovation. 

With its ability to create up to 100 types of waves, controlled by individual motors, URBNSURF stands as a testament to engineering and technological advancement. Moreover, the facility's amenities, including a clubhouse, food outlets and retail areas, enrich the overall experience, fostering a vibrant community of surf enthusiasts and visitors alike. 

As URBNSURF continues to make waves across the country, Northrop's role in bringing this visionary project to life underscores its position as a leader in engineering consultancy, driving the future of recreational infrastructure and urban development. 



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