Bluestone National Park Resort unveils plans for £7m SkyDome

A sketch of the SkyDome's main entrance.

Bluestone National Park Resort unveils plans for £7m SkyDome

Bluestone has unveiled plans for its ground-breaking SkyDome project which is expected to inject millions of pounds into the local economy.

A UK first, the £7million development will see a transparent canopy arched over a massive 7000 sqm area encompassing cafes, shops, activities and a 600-seat amphitheatre.

With a projected build time of around 15 months, the SkyDome should open to resort guests by spring 2019.

It will create an initial 55 new jobs at the resort and will see around £3m spent within the local construction industry.

It’s predicted that the new all-weather facility will herald the creation of an additional 300 jobs, taking the workforce at Bluestone to 1000 by 2020 .

With its sweeping, undulating landscape of natural grass, trees and ferns, SkyDome’s clear span roof would easily cover an area the size of a football pitch.

The internal terrain will rise and fall in excess of ten metres which will give the space a genuinely organic atmosphere and a sense of being outside.

The concept was the brainchild of Bluestone’s CEO William McNamara, who wanted to create a landmark project for the resort which could offer quality holidays and short breaks whatever the weather.

He said: “We’ve got lots of plans for the facilities within SkyDome which will take guests on a journey through its winding, gently sloping paths, to a choice of activities for all ages.”

“Proposals include caving, a high ropes course, ‘free-range’ craft activities and an adventure play area.  The vision is to provide a spectacular undercover venue bringing the great outdoors indoors.

 

“An additional £22m will be generated for the local economy over a ten-year period which includes £3m spent with local contractors during the construction phase.”  

SkyDome aims to continue Bluestone’s ecological ethos building on the holiday resort’s cultivation of more than 330,000 new trees and shrubs since 2008, as well as the creation of two biomass energy centres which can produce 7,000 MWh of carbon-neutral energy per year.

The environment has been carefully designed to reflect its natural surroundings, drawing on expert advice from physicists and horticulturalists.

As a result, the area will not be heated and will instead rely on solar gain for warmth, while still allowing indigenous plants and trees to grow and flourish.

The dome itself, supplied by Novum structures, will cost more than £3m and will be made up of hundreds of ETFE (Ethylene Tetra Flouro Ethylene) roof panels, similar to those used on the resort’s water park.

Terry Morley, partner at Holder Mathias Architects said: “The use of an ETFE covering on such a scale and in a UK holiday resort environment is, we believe, groundbreaking and will make a significant contribution to further enhancing the attractiveness of the Bluestone offer.” 

The project leaders have been working with horticulturalist Ivor Stokes who worked at Kew Gardens, and more recently at the National Botanical Garden of Wales as its director of horticulture.

Head of Projects Liz Weedon said: “Ivor’s knowledge and expertise has helped us devise the perfect environment to achieve our vision.”

“As the area is rain-free, water run-off from the SkyDome will be collected in what is essentially a French drain system and used to manually irrigate the plants and trees inside. 

“We have worked carefully to create an area which is still a genuine Pembrokeshire climate; therefore the SkyDome’s edges will not be hermetically sealed.

“Instead a perimeter bund has been designed to provide additional shelter allowing guests to have a real authentic outdoor experience - indoors.”