Percy Thomas Partnership has revealed its latest designs for the £70.6 million Wales Millennium Centre, the planning application for which will be submitted next week.
The scheme, which goes on exhibition at St David's Hall, Cardiff, this week, will incorporate facilities for 10 organisations including the Welsh National Opera and Diversions Dance Company. It aims to attract 1.75 million visitors per year as part of its 'robust' business plan.
Branded 'unmistakably Welsh' and able to 'evoke images of our landscape and of the cultural and working traditions of Wales' by the architect, the building will include a 1900-seat lyric theatre at its centre, enveloped by a huge steel shell 36m high at its peak, rivetted for shipping connotations and treated to resist the salty sea air. Materials include recycled slate blocks arranged in coloured horizontal bands, to reflect the rock strata of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, and, inside, semi-hardwoods native to mid-Wales, with columns for the internal galleries taking the form of tree ferns now found as fossils in the region's coal seams. Hospitality suites open out on to roofgardens which will reflect the windswept trees and grasses of the Cardigan coast. The architectural-glass department of Swansea Institute is working with designers to insert 'fissures' of glass into the slate block walls. An inscription carved into the theatre and filled with glass, will be created by future resident the Academi, which represents Welsh writers in both languages.
The building is funded by £27 million from the Millennium Commission, £10.5 million from the Arts Council of Wales lottery fund, £14.6 million from the public sector, £1.5 million of European money, £1.1 million from resident bodies and £15.9 million from the private sector. Depending on planning permission, the project backers hope that construction can start next spring and complete by the end of 2001.