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Cardiff University seeks architects for £55m brace of schemes

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Cardiff University is recruiting architects for a £23 million maths and computing sciences building and a £32 million student accommodation block

Two architect-led multidisciplinary design teams will be selected to develop BIM Level 2 plans for the schemes, which are both planned to complete in 2021.

The first project will create a new 10,600m2 combined purpose-built home for the university’s mathematics and computer science and informatics departments, which currently suffer from a lack of space.

The second project will deliver up to 725 student bedrooms on a site that is currently an artificial sports pitch within the university’s main central Cardiff campus.

Both schemes are part of a Moses Cameron Williams Architects’ masterplan to regenerate the Welsh university.

Last year Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS), Hawkins\Brown and HOK  all won planning permission for major projects at Cardiff University won under the masterplan.

FCBS’s competition-winning £50 million Centre for Student Life project will create a 9,000m² complex physically connected to the university’s existing student union on Park Place.

Hawkins\Brown and HOK are meanwhile working on a two-building science and innovation centre project on the university’s brownfield Maindy Park site nearby.

Moses Cameron Williams Architects won the masterplanning job in 2014, defeating Foster + Partners, HOK, Wilkinson Eyre, Allies and Morrison, Stride Treglown and Sheppard Robson.

Cardiff University currently provides around 5,544 student rooms and is hoping to deliver an additional 1,310 units in the next five years.

An industry open day for both projects will be held at the Small Chemistry Lecture Theatre (Room 1.1222) in the Main Building on Park Place (CF10 3AT) from 11am to 1pm on 13 January.

The response deadline for the residences project is noon, 3 February, while the deadline for applications for the maths and computer sciences contract is noon, 10 February. Submissions may be in English or Welsh.

How to apply

View the maths and computer sciences contract notice for more information

View the residences contract notice for more information

Contact details

Julie Paynter
Cardiff University
Procurement Services
McKenzie House
30-36 Newport Road
CF24 0DE

Tel: +44 2920879648
Email: Buyline@cardiff.ac.uk


Q&A: Karsan Vaghani, Cardiff University deputy director of estates (campus development)

Cardiff University deputy director of estates (campus development)

Cardiff University deputy director of estates (campus development)

Karsan Vaghani

What is your vision for the new maths and computer science building and residences?

We are bringing together two of Cardiff University’s Schools - Mathematics and Computer Science & Informatics. We have a detailed brief from both Schools and we have calculated that 10,000 sq metres will accommodate their needs. The brief includes requirements for teaching and academic accommodation as well as communal and social needs. The aim is to create a vibrant centre of excellence that will host innovative teaching and research in an interdisciplinary environment.

What we’re looking for is something that’s distinct, therefore we need high-calibre architects. We’re particularly excited about the location, which is a great opportunity right in the heart of our Cathays campus. Three options were drawn up and the University chose the highest-quality option, which is reflected in the tender. This highlights our commitment to producing an innovative building that meets the needs of students and staff from the two Schools within the University.

In relation to the student accommodation, it has developed from a request to house 400 students, to 600, and now due to the University’s success we’re looking at 700-plus. We will be looking for design innovation for these residences, which will be on our Talybont site. I’d like to have a good look at the procurement process because we can do a lot of off-site fabrication on this project.

How will the new schemes relate to the university’s development masterplan?

The Maths and Computer Science & Informatics building has always been part of our Master Plan, which will result in a major transformation of our campus by providing new research, teaching and student facilities. The Master Plan is making a significant difference as major facilities are already opening. Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, a European centre of excellence on our £300m Innovation Campus, was opened by The Queen last year for example. We’re also in the process of building two further research-focused facilities, totalling £135m, on the Innovation Campus, working with architects HOK and Hawkins/Brown. Our plans for a £50m Centre for Student Life - designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios - on our Cathays Campus were passed by the City of Cardiff Council before Christmas. It’s great to see the Master Plan taking shape in the real world.

Demand has led to us taking a fresh look at how to meet the accommodation needs of our students, hence the plans for a new residence at Talybont. It’s vital that we provide students with the best experience possible as a university and their accommodation is of course a major part of that. Talybont is a site where we already house a large number of students so it is a logical location. We’ll then consider further capacity if necessary.

What sort of architects are you hoping will apply?

I’m looking for innovative architects that have worked collaboratively and successfully with other disciplines and the end users. We want ambitious applications that match the ambition of Cardiff University. We’re a university that is aiming to be among the top 20 in the UK and top 100 in the world so these developments will help us to achieve our goals. If you can contribute then get in touch.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects be procured?

As mentioned, we’re currently very busy developing new facilities as part of our Master Plan. We’re putting up two new buildings on our Innovation Campus, a former brownfield site not far from our central Cathays Campus. We’re building Innovation Central with Hawkins/Brown and working with HOK on our Translational Research Facility. We’re currently partnering Kier Group to conduct the first phase of early works on the brownfield site. The Centre for Student Life next to our Students’ Union on the Cathays Campus has just been given the go ahead too, so that’s two very significant projects for us ahead of the maths and student accommodation projects.

Are there any other similar higher education projects you have been impressed by?

It’s not a higher education project but I was impressed by the innovative approach of Hilton’s scheme with Chinese construction firm CIMC to build Bristol Airport’s first hotel. The rooms are made of former shipping containers but are fitted out to a high standard with everything that you’d expect. Apparently the rooms were built in China and shipped to the UK before being assembled on site. It might be an approach we can consider for our student accommodation project.

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