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New drama centre for BBC Cardiff by FAT

[FIRST LOOK] FAT has submitted plans for a new BBC drama centre at Cardiff Bay, which could proceed on site within months if given the go-ahead by planners

The proposed television production centre will be the first part of a new digital media hub, masterplanned by DEGW, at the 27-acre Roath Basin site, owned by the Welsh Assembly Government. Holder Mathias is also understood to be working on the waterside development.

The 300m-long facade features a decorative precast element of Gothic and space-age quality; a wave motif referring to water, hills and coal; and openings that reference dockside industry, BBC hospital drama Casualty and the architecture of William Burges – according to the developer Igloo Regeneration. The wider scheme also includes a new ‘winged’ bridge by Studio Bednarski.

Menna Richards, director of BBC Cymru Wales, said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity to build on the success of BBC Wales drama production and the wider creative industries in Wales.’

She added: ‘We look forward to welcoming the cast and crew of the enormously successful Casualty to this new centre of excellence to work side-by-side with the other award-winning dramas which are already made in Wales’.

The drama centre will allow the BBC to double its television production in Wales by 2016.

Casualty will begin production at Roath Basin in summer 2011.


Project data

Architects: FAT Architects
Location: Cardiff
Type of Project: Drama Production Village
Structural Engineers: Bay Associates
Project Architect: FAT Architects
Client: Igloo Regeneration (General Partner) Ltd
Funding: Igloo Regeneration (General Partner) Ltd (Aviva)
Tender date: 22nd Feb 2010
Start on site date: June 2010
Contract duration: 12 months (circa)
Gross internal floor area: 185,000 sq ft (circa)
Form of contract and/or procurement: JCT 2005 with amendments, Design and Build Two Stage Tende
Total cost: Circa £30m
M&E consultant: RPS Gregory
Project Manager: Davis Langdon
Quantity surveyor: Gardiner and Theobald
Planning supervisor: EC Harris
Main contractor: tbc
Selected subcontractors and suppliers: tbc
Annual co2 emissions: tbc BREAM Excellent

Readers' comments (22)


    Well it certainly looks like FAT have got their way over the design, well done guys!

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  • Sean, 2 things;

    1. Do you think that the TV am building in Camden Town still looks any good?

    or does it look like an empty piece of façadism ?

    2. Can you lot detail it so it isn't completely decrepit in 20 years time?

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  • Rank!

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  • I can't see any reason for people NOT to say: "This is a waste of licence payers' money! "

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  • ach-y-fi!

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  • Is this the opening salvo of NEO-POST-MODERNISM?

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  • Shocking. 'Stick-on' style in the worst possible way. Where is the bold strong architectural integrity of the Chipperfield building for the BBC in Glasgow?

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  • i can't seem to relate the facade to BBC drama. There seems to be some kind of sea side feel to it but more like a promenade pavilion or pier. I like the green wall.

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  • Jokes, if they are good at all, work once or possibly twice. That is why joke architecture is a non-starter, the gag becomes boring.

    I don't like the 'green wall', don't these things just die?

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  • In a recession it is hard to comprehend why the beeb has allowed such a frivolous use of a project budget. I imagine their initiative was to panda to the darlings of british architecture. Shame. Form has not followed function here; intricate and decorated in a completely arbitary manner in my opinion. Perhaps a lesson should be learnt here, gimmick architecture is essentially the reserve of high art architecture....not particularly relevant in a situation where there is a rational reason for the building to exist. Please keep this kind of work for exhibitions and for tri and bi annales!

    Also, it would be nice if FAT had considered the actual architecture that is inherant in a simple building rather than making a billboard to market their own colourful style.

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  • Nasty

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  • Doesn't FAT stand for Fashion, Architecture, Taste? I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering when are they going to start delivering on at least one letter of their acronym?

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  • 'Casualty.' They said it. It amazes me how quickly fashions cycle round to the extent that FAT imagine a sorry retread of Stanley Tigerman and Ernst Lohse ca. 1984 has something relevant to say now.

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  • It would have been nice to at least spell William Burges's name correctly if they were going to cite his buildings as a reference point (see last image)...

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  • *Burges' (I am at fault with my own flaw)...

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  • I hope in years to come designers don't look back at this thinking its ingenious and why did those critical fools not get it, because I'm trying so hard to see it. I envision a decrepit Blackpool promenade facade in 8 years, it offends every principal I hold for good design and design process, but worst of all its reflection offends light and we should stop building stuff that does.

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  • I try to like FAT's work, I really do. Clients come in all shapes and sizes, and we need an architectural culture which reflects this variety. And of course the press needs images to fill space with.

    However, if this is architectural 'wit' then it is firmly of the christmas cracker variety - heard it a million times already, just not amusing any more.

    By now we're used to such tiresome japery from FAT, but what we seldom see is serious journalism which challenges this type of overt cynicism. There is certainly no sign of robust criticism in this article.

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  • With reference to Noah's mail in particular.

    Is there any evidence that the 'clients' like it anyway?.

    Is there not an element of Emperor's new clothes about this (and other works by different architects) with FAT as the naughty tailors and the BBC as the duped?

    As long as there is publicity for something, especially if it is overblown, then some people will believe it must be good. We have seen this in the art market for a few years now and of course in the great bridgehead between art and architecture, Will RMJM buy out FAT sometime soon?

    Robust criticism has been missing from the mainstream architectural press for as long as I've ever seen it anyway.

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  • In a way I like FAT they are open about the fact there buildings are decorated sheds. where as many architects pretend to be modernists by dressing there building up in a modernist styled facard. At least FAT can show us that if there is one thing architecture needs it is a new movement one with real substance that really sums up our age. Unfortunately I haven’t got a solution but maybe some you do. We need a name and a ethos and then we can work the architecture from there.

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  • Fatuous Arbitrary Tat - a disgrace to the profession - get them struck off !

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