Techniquest Cardiff Bay by Science Capital by HLM Architects

Work has now completed on the major transformation and expansion of Techniquest, Wales’ popular science discovery centre in Cardiff Bay.

The new £5.7 million Science Capital building provides over 1,000 sqm of additional exhibition and commercial hire space, almost doubling the size of the UK’s longest established science centre. The project forms a key part of Techniquest’s mission to extend and diversify its audiences with innovative, contemporary science to ensure a sustainable long-term future in Wales.

The works greatly enhance the centre’s ability to showcase research and developments across the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sectors. Content will be delivered through a combination of exhibitions, multimedia displays, programming and events and will be refreshed and renewed on a continual basis, responding to new scientific developments.

HLM Architect’s design was inspired by an ‘envelop’ concept, with new the new build wrapping over the existing structure, repurposing the store and workshop roofs as mezzanine exhibition space. Inspired by origami, the design offers a new form to the building to make it immersive, contemporary, active and relevant.

The entrance has been relocated, with the addition of a piazza, and now embraces Cardiff Bay and improves the relationship to the locality. A new café further activates and enlivens the space by encouraging greater footfall. The building’s form and in particular the relocated entrance are a nod to the area’s waterfront heritage, with angles and curves referencing the bay as well as giving the building the appearance of “opening up”.

The glazing was selected to drive interest in the centre by providing onlookers with a glimpse of the exhibitions. The cladding materials and colours reference the area’s industrial heritage and add dynamism to the rear elevation, which was previously a service yard. The choice of cladding material was also carefully considered to contrast not only in colour but also in texture, reflectivity, and scale – giving an instantly recognisable appearance within Cardiff Bay.

The new landscape is cohesive and robust, created by using high quality hard and soft materials reflecting those of the building itself as well as its location. The landscape’s design language uses form, line, texture and colour to create a narrative of simplicity and clarity, meant to evoke and encourage feelings of thoughtfulness and discovery

To integrate the extension with the new building, a new roof was created over the stepped roofs at the rear of the building, which were repurposed as a mezzanine, linking the existing triple height space to the new double height space. This contrast of spaces ensured a ‘route’ through the building weaved through all areas.

“Many of us grew up visiting this centre as children before bringing our own children, and we recognised the need to address some of the faults such as the location of the entrance near a busy, dangerous road. Our vision was not an expansion, but rather a reimagining of the entire space that both celebrated the industrial heritage and connected visitors with the bay. Thanks to our thoughtful design approach, the result is a very striking contemporary building seamlessly integrated with the existing building, which will help ensure the future and longevity of Techniquest for many years to come,” said Matthew Thomas, Associate at HLM Architects.

“The transformation of Techniquest has resulted in a new, visually striking landmark in Cardiff Bay. The contemporary design draws on the extensive experience of our team and offers visitors a vibrant and exciting space that is flexible, active, and relevant. We feel privileged having played a part in the reimagining of this much-loved centre and are pleased to see it now fully realised,” said Gareth Woodfin, Cardiff Studio Director at HLM Architects.

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