The Senedd, the home of the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff, celebrates its tenth anniversary on Tuesday 1 March with Building for Democracy, a talk from architects Richard Rogers and Ivan Harbour of Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners. bNational Assembly for Wales Cardiff by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.
The election of the Welsh National Assembly in 1999, was a turning point in the history of Wales. Its home, Cardiff’s former docklands, is a striking addition to the local landscape and a statement of faith in the regeneration process. The Assembly building embodies democratic values of openness and participation, while its progressive environmental agenda establishes a new standard for public buildings in Britain.
The idea of openness is exemplified by the transparency of the building. Public spaces are elevated on a slate-clad plinth and cut away to allow daylight to penetrate the administrative spaces at lower level. A light-weight, gently undulating roof shelters both internal and external spaces, pierced by the protruding extension of the Debating Chamber.
A large circular space at the heart of the building, the Chamber is defined by the dramatic roof made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) rated Western red cedar timber, which is drawn down from the roof above to form its enclosure. The Assembly also includes exhibition and education spaces, a café, committee and meeting rooms, press facilities, offices for the principal officers of the Assembly and a members’ loung.
The servicing strategy responds to the varying demands of the internal spaces – air-conditioning is supplied in the debating chamber, while the public lobby is naturally ventilated. Heat exchangers capitalise on the potential of the ground as a cooling mechanism, while the thermal mass of the plinth tempers fluctuations in the internal environment.
In this way, the design achieves significant energy savings compared to traditional buildings. Hard landscaping, together with an avenue of trees, creates a public space around the Assembly and completes the jigsaw of new development in this part of Cardiff Bay. Source by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.
Location: Cardiff, UK
Architects: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Structural: Engineer Arup
Environmental Consultant: BDSP Partnership
Project Manager: Schal
Landscape Architect: Gillespies LLP
Client: National Assembly for Wales
Gross Internal Area: 5,308 m2
Awards: 2008 Civic Trust Award, 2007 Chicago Athenaeum International Award, 2006 RIBA Stirling Prize Building of the Year Shortlist
Images: Courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Article by Marco Rinaldi