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Ministers cut ribbon on new BDP-designed college in Cardiff

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A new £45million campus for Cardiff and Vale College in the heart of the Welsh capital, designed by BDP, has opened.

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones and Minister for Education and Skills Huw Lewis cut the ribbon on the facility last week.

The building features 130 teaching rooms including specialist labs, workshops, IT studios and two large learning and skills centres.

It is home to 4,000 students studying across 200 different courses with thousands more engaged through the year on short courses, employer training and apprenticeships.

Jones said: ‘This new city centre campus is truly an inspirational building which will give learners in Wales access to a wide-ranging, flexible curriculum in a world class learning environment.’
The building’s wedge shape connects the interior spaces to south facing terraces with views towards Cardiff Bay.
An oversailing roof is angled to accommodate a 1,850m2 photovoltaic array, and a restaurant is located under the northernmost tip with views across the city towards the Millennium Stadium.

The architect’s view - Dominic Hook of BDP

‘The site for the new campus is a remediated brownfield site - formerly a marine engineering works - in the middle of a light industrial district only a few minutes south of Cardiff’s central rail and bus transport interchange.

‘The area is poised for redevelopment following the approval of a mixed used masterplan and subsequently detailed consent for a large residential development. As the first new development within the area the new college has become a catalyst to stimulate the progressive regeneration of this underutilised swathe of land which lies between the city centre and Cardiff bay. Currently the two are very disconnected but in time the progressive redevelopment of this area will stitch the two together.

‘The brief was to develop a design for a 16,500m² campus which contained a rich variety of faculties and departments including hospitality, hair and beauty, graphics, film and photography. Real life working settings are created which are showcased throughout the building. Faculty clusters wrap around and connect across an atrium to a shared resource pod containing a library over two levels and ICT spaces and conferencing / training facilities- an inclusion which is intended specifically to foster links with local businesses as well as generating revenue for the college. 

‘The wedge-shaped building rises from three storeys to the south up to the more city centre scaled six storeys to the north. The singular inclined plane of the roof faces south to optimise energy generation from a 1,850m² photovoltaic array. A series of stepped south facing active terraces have also been created which closely relate to the internal activities which they are adjacent to. The building is very open and permeable with over 150m of active frontage encouraging people to interact with it and stimulate the prospect of engaging new learners or fostering links with local businesses. 

‘The building has three primary entrances, spaces which draw inspiration from the characteristic historic arcades of Cardiff. These lead you through towards the building’s centre of gravity social heart space. From here there is visually great clarity and legibility as to how you navigate around the building. 

‘The journey continues as you rise up the building creating a sequence of increasingly aspirational learning spaces culminating in the fine dining hospitality destination space suite at the top of the building. From here you can enjoy distant views towards the bay to the south and the millennium stadium to the north.’ 


Project data

Architects: BDP
Location: Cardiff
Type Of Project: Further education college
Structural Engineers: Jubb Consulting
Client: Rightacre Properties & Cardiff and Vale college
M&e consultant: AECOM
Main contractor: Willmott Dixon
Start date (project won): November 2012
Start on site date: August 2013
Completion date: September 2015
Gross area: 16,500m2
Construction cost: £45 million
Cost per m2: £1,575


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