Sidmouth Amphitheater: Flood defenses with a theatrical twist

A new flood alleviation scheme to protect Sidmouth, U.K. from future flooding doubles up as an amphitheater for the local community.

Sidmouth Amphitheater

The Sidmouth Amphitheater

For many years Sidmouth, a town based on the Southwest coast of England, has faced a high risk of flooding. If a rare, major storm were to take place many local residential and commercial properties would be susceptible to flooding.

Jacobs was brought in by Devon County Council to develop a flood defense scheme for the town that would overcome this and navigate the town’s drainage challenges including a dense town center, narrow streets and old buildings.

But the team went further and were inspired to turn the flood defenses into an amphitheater, providing a public space for local communities to visit. They also reinstated a wildflower meadow and planted 11 new trees. Now over 300 people at any one time can enjoy local events in a unique natural setting, so long as the weather stays dry!

  • 64

    properties will be protected from flooding in the event of a rare, major storm

  • 24720

    cubic feet (700 cubic meters) of storage provided by the amphitheater and sub-surface tank

  • 3000

    recycled plastic geocellular crates used to store water below the ground

  • 11

    new trees planted

  • 3724

    US gallons per minute (235 liters per second) of reduction to flow reaching the South West Water sewer network

“No one imagined that a scheme requiring such a significant volume of water to be intercepted and stored before it gets to the town could in effect be hidden in plain sight, giving the community a real asset that will be a draw for people.”

Cllr Stuart Hughes

Sidmouth Town Council

Sidmouth Flood Alleviation Scheme

“The dual-use approach used here is a model for how all projects should be conceived. Flood defenses should benefit the community all year round as opposed to simply when there is a flood event. Maximizing the use of blue-green infrastructure in our public realm will provide wildlife habitats, local amenities, and mitigate some of the effects of our changing climate. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown just how valuable our green spaces can be to the community by providing mental health benefits, cleaning the air and water, and reducing the urban heat island effect for those living in our cities and urban spaces.”

Paul Hargreaves

Paul Hargreaves

Senior Associate Director, Jacobs

Meet the team

  • Paul Hargreaves
    Paul Hargreaves, Lead Designer

    Responsible for developing the overall Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) design concept and ensuring the various disciplines involved coordinated their efforts to deliver a holistic design. Paul also supervised the site during construction.

  • Andy Craven
    Andy Craven-Webb, Lead Landscape Artchitect

    Lead landscape architect responsible for developing hard and soft landscaping proposals from the outline to detailed design stages.

  • Angela Sims
    Angela Sims, Project Manager

    Project manager from the outline design stage through to construction.

  • Dave Bellamy
    Dave Bellamy, Senior Engineer

    Lead ground and hydraulic modeler responsible for overseeing 3D modeling of the ground surface and creating a representative hydraulic model to check performance.

  • Gloria Rigual Munoz
    Gloria Rigual Munoz, Designer

    Designer of the cross drains to capture surface water, conveyance pipeline, and the outfall connection.

  • James Scott
    James Scott, Site Supervisor

    Main supervisor at the construction site.

  • Jennifer Roberts
    Jennifer Roberts, Landscape Architect

    Landscape architect responsible for artist impressions, public information boards and various architectural detailing.

  • Steve Bishop
    Steve Bishop, Geotechnical Engineer

    Lead geotechnical engineer responsible for the steel sheet pile designs and reinforced earth steps from the outline design stage to supervision during construction.

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