Case Studies Commercial / Mixed Use

Canolfan S4C Yr Egin, Carmarthen

Canolfan S4C Yr Egin is a new 3,600sqm (net) headquarters and media-hub on the Carmarthen campus of University of Wales Trinity Saint David. It is the realization of a vision to bring together the creative, digital and cultural industries in west Wales and provide space for S4C television and other creative, ‘digital practitioners’ who will exchange information, innovate, create jobs and promote the Welsh language.

BDP designed Yr Egin in collaboration with the Carmarthen office of Rural Office for Architecture. Together, they created an exciting, elegant building which responds uniquely to the brief as well as the surrounding Welsh countryside.

Design and Planning Process
The design is the result of collaboration between BDP and Rural Office for Architecture and is based on the close relationship among the University, tenants and wider community. The three-way relationship is reflected in the simple triangular form that grows from Carmarthenshire’s soil. The tripartite arrangement is also reflected in the materials used with the smooth, glass form of the office space floating over a solid ground floor plinth which reflects the surrounding Carmarthen landscape.

The internal layout of the building is focused on a public foyer and atrium that links the three floors. The ground floor contains a café, broadcasting and performance space for the use of tenants and community groups. The layout encourages collaboration, communication and interaction among all users of the building; it’s where ideas are shared and developed, and acts as an incubator both for the establishment of new companies and a new generation of creative and technical people.

Key Sustainability Points

This low-energy, BREEAM Excellent building uses the shallow plan and flexible floor-plate to great effect through maximizing natural light and natural ventilation. The atrium provides essential stack-effect and input from M&E consultants, McCann, determined the free area required and most advantageous routes for ventilation flow. Requirements were facilitated by adjustments to the structural and architectural solutions with beam sizes altered and bulkheads adapted. Cost-in-use is optimised by bio-climatic design that minimises energy use; the BEMS controlled natural ventilation system, low emissivity glazing and high levels of insulation contribute to a Class A EPC rating. CIBSE TM52 & TM54 modelling was undertaken to inform the design and forecast future running costs.


“We love being here! There is always such a buzz in the building and there always seems to be interesting events planned in the Atrium at lunchtime; our staff never want to leave!”
Louise Harris, Director, Big Learning Company
“The centre will be the destination of choice with new enterprise hubs and high skill accelerator schemes to grow new businesses linked to the university’s portfolio. It will develop the skills of existing businesses and attract new investment into the region”
Gwilym Dyfri Jones – Associate Pro Vice Chancellor Trinity St David Carmarthen


Case Studies Commercial / Mixed Use

BBC Cymru Wales Headquarters, Cardiff

The BBC Cymru Wales Headquarters brings together a wide variety of studio, administration and support spaces in a single building. Open to the city, the highly flexible, energy efficient space provides a creative, collaborative and inspiring workplace for BBC staff. Located opposite Cardiff Central Station, the project occupies the site of the former bus station, creating a dynamic principal building for Central Square, a major new space for the city. The Design Commission for Wales worked closely with representatives of BBC Cymru Wales, Rightacres Property, Cardiff Council, Foster + Partners design team throughout.

Planning and Design Process
As a workplace the key focus was to create an environment where it is a joy to work, enabling staff and departments to work more collaboratively in open, shared and flexible creative spaces. We also wanted to enhance the visitor experience to strengthen the relationship between the BBC and their audiences.
The innovative spirit of the project is defined by the BBC’s vision to be the most creative organisation in the world, its commitment to create genuine public engagement and the idea to create an open and attractive workplace. Broadcasting studios usually require a controlled environment for operations, yet, the building manages to achieve the contrasting aims of the project to open up to the public as well as provide a high quality broadcasting hub for BBC Wales.

The objective for the new working environment to be one of the BBC’s most efficient and cost-effective workplaces, delivering increased value for money to the license fee payer, as well as the innovative nature of elements of the project, required the input of specialist trade contractors from an early stage of the design development work. This led to a collaborative ‘Design and Build’ approach being selected as the most appropriate form of procurement. Early engagement with the sub-contractors and a close-knit collaborative relationship between the developer, design team, main contractor and occupier enabled the project to be delivered on time and to budget.
Close collaboration between the client and the design team, including the developer, meant that the ‘Hot and Heavy’ elements, such as the fixed parts for the TV studios, could be procured along with the other base-build elements, during the construction process. This not only ensured cost savings, but also reduced delays in the process.

Another key aspiration of the project was to give back to the city. Vibrant city spaces are predicated on two major qualities: a density of users and a diversity of activities. Edged by the Principality Stadium, a cultural landmark, Cardiff’s popular retail heart and the busy Cardiff Central, the BBC Cymru Wales site met all prerequisites to form a vital urban space.

The challenge was to restore a sense of place and connection to the city that had been lost over time. The relocation of BBC Cymru Wales acted as a catalyst for change, creating the opportunity to regenerate a historic site and unlock the heart to the city – a chance to provide the welcome that Cardiff deserved.

Key Sustainability Points
• High performance envelope – to meet BREEAM regulations, 40% above Building Regulations Part L
• Rainwater harvesting with a 140,000-litre storage tank
• Low-flow sanitaryware providing a 68% improvement over the BREEAM baseline
• 400 square-metres of photovoltaic panels on the roof
• Daylight provision – through floorplate design and roof light
• Roof garden to enhance biodiversity and ecology as well as provision of outdoor space in a city centre location
• Active chilled beams that use less energy than a traditional fan coil system
• Very high-performance acoustics
• Provision of cycle storage and facilities with separate and safe entrance, 200 bike spaces, showers, changing and drying room facilities
• Provision for electric car parking
The building has been awarded BREEAM Outstanding Interim Certificate – Design Stage with a score of 87.2% and is on track to achieve BREEAM Outstanding. This achievement further demonstrates the collaborative and joined up approach of the BBC and the developer’s team.


Director of BBC Wales Rhodri Talfan Davies said: “This is the next exciting step in the journey as BBC Wales prepares to move to its new home. We’re thrilled by the progress to date and excited by the prospect of the relocation of our teams toward the end of 2019. Our developers, Rightacres, have been a terrific partner and have created a home that I know will inspire and excite our teams for years to come.”

BBC Director of Property, Alan Bainbridge said: “To hand a building over of this scale and complexity exactly on time and budget is an amazing achievement. We signed the agreement for lease back in December 2014 and the predicted handover date was today – it has been a fantastic effort by all parties and we now look forward to completing the fit-out ready for occupation next year.”

Chief Executive of Rightacres, Paul McCarthy added: “The completion of Three Central Square is testament to the successful partnership between ourselves as developer, BBC Workplace, Cardiff Council and Legal & General. It marks an important milestone in the development of Central Square and has been a team effort from start to finish.”


Case Studies Commercial / Mixed Use

Tramshed, Cardiff

In the summer of 2014 Cardiff Council invited expressions of interest in developing the former redundant industrial Tram depot in Grangetwon, with a view to redeveloping the 0.5 acre land and building into a thriving mixed-use facility that would support both existing and future growing communities.

Located at the junction of Clare Road and Pendyris Street, the building is Grade II listed, due to its importance to the preservation of the history of the transport system in Cardiff. The depot was built between 1900 and 1902, originally to store trams, operated by the Corporation of Cardiff, later converted to store trolley buses, and later again used as the central workshop for vehicle maintenance to the City of Cardiff operational services.

The new development, Tramshed, by Loft Co, designed by EWA and AP, offers new uses including a multi-arts performance space, dance and activity studios, a new business incubator unit and 31 live/work loft apartments.

Design and Planning Process

 Listed Building Status: The early, developmental designs were submitted to the Listed Building and Conversation officer at the local authority in 2014. It was recognised that some of the most significant features of the Grade II listed building status were the main wide-spanning shell of the building and the roof structure. It was also established that the new design should seek to minimise interference with the fabric of the building.

Renovation: On the West elevation the existing openings were retained, providing new glazing and large sliding doors to celebrate their scale and purpose. The existing semi-circular windows to the South elevation are an important feature of the listed building. The developer sought to retain these and use them in-situ as part of a twin façade, sheltered by new double-glazed units.

Roof Structure: The wide spanning roof structure was the most important internal feature of the existing building and was therefore retained throughout. This allows it to be celebrated above the new performance space foyers and as an integral part of the character of each loft apartment. There are several double height spaces where the structure can be appreciated from entry level.

Renewal: The new uses in the building demand good daylight, views and access at ground level. Consequently creation of newly organised windows and doors were set out in relation to the existing facades, fitted within the openings of the established recessed brick panels and following the widths of the half round windows above.

The loft apartments have a tall space reaching up into the roof structure with new, tall vertical windows allowing natural light and views. The windows are tall and narrow to frame the views and address any disturbance from the nearby railway. They have an acoustic opening side vent panel, faced with a metal louvred panel to the outside, allowing attenuated ventilation.

The language of the tall vertical windows is continued at ground level to the North elevation for consistency, but also controlling the intrusion of new openings to the existing fabric.  Each business unit window has a sliding steel grille in front of it, both as a practical designed-in security feature but also as a continuation of the industrial metalwork aesthetic of the upper floor, which relates to the original industrial functions of the building.

Key Sustainability Points

 Building fabric upgrade: As the roof is the largest exposed area its thermal efficiency is significantly increased by the replacement of the roof covering with new insulated panels, that exceed current Building regulations. This in conjunction with insulation to the new floors and dividing walls provides highly efficient apartments.

Lighting: Natural daylight has been maximised to the office and residential spaces through use of existing openings and careful planning of new windows and rooflights.

Glazing: Existing single glazed rooflights and replacement windows have been replaced with highly efficient, thermally broken, new double-glazed units.


Wales Planning Awards 2016, commended

The Planning Awards 2017, best use of heritage in placemaking

RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2017

Finalist in Excellence for Planning in Built Heritage





Case Studies Commercial / Mixed Use

One Central Square, Cardiff

Planning and Design Process


The project brief emerged following comprehensive collaboration between the developers team, Cardiff City Council and a wide range of stakeholders. Importantly, the building was to drive the wider masterplan for this area, now known as Central Square. The development creates a wonderful working environment with 360 degree views over the City and delivers a number of key objectives:

  • B1 office layout providing a net area of circa 135,000 ft².
  • Basement containing car and bicycle parking, changing facilities, waste management and building services.
  • Animation and interaction with the new boulevard created by the podium that leads into the double height entrance area that contains reception, administration facilities, business lounge and leads out to the external terraces.
  • Central core containing high quality lifts, stairs and toilet facilities providing the vertical link through the building and fit out flexibility.
  • Levels 00 and 08 each contain flexible floor plates that wrap around the buildings central core. Level 01 provides a balcony that overlooks the reception. Level 08 contains the more sheltered office ‘pod’ space that has access to an external roof terrace.
  • High quality facade treatment that commences with a ceramic granite clad base that is separated by a fully glazed element from the random precast concrete cladding above.
  • Landmark building that provides transparency and animation to the public realm, which is now a benchmark for future development.


The façade treatment utilises the use of precast concrete cladding panels within a 1500mm space planning grid. Whilst this may normally restrict design, Rio have innovatively utilised three individually sized panel modules to create a random façade appearance. This high levels of glazing compliment this façade treatment to maximise the views out and daylight levels whilst maintaining a comfortable working environment.


The circulation core at the centre of the floor plate provides excellent flexibility. This design decision allows the floor plate to be subdivided into quarters or smaller units if needed. Provision for a future stair opening has been built into the reinforced concrete floor slab design to allow for the future interconnection of floors.


The business lounge created within the reception area was included within the base build with the tenant included within the fit out process. Creating a touchdown space for informal meetings, this facility has been received positively. Tenants looking to take up space at One Central Square see this facility as an added attraction.


Key sustainability points


A holistic sustainability approach to design has been adopted to deliver a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated building that limits its impact on climate change and enhances the local environment whilst also being highly efficient to heat and cool.

Thermal Mass

The building incorporates a concrete frame solution and utilises thermal mass to ameliorate the immediate effects of solar gain and assist in providing a more stable internal temperature profile.


Due to the City Centre location, it’s proximity to the Cardiff Central railway station and the need to design for call centre occupancy density, the building adopts an efficient mechanical ventilation system.

Day lighting

The building has been modelled using EDSL TAS design software with a view to obtaining the optimum balance between solar control, to minimise overheating, and glare reduction, for inner visual comfort and to maximise Daylight Factors. The building is achieving an average Daylight Factor across the net floor space of approximately 5%, towards the upper end of the BCO guidelines.

Renewable technologies

The fabric first approach to the environmental design of the building coupled with very detailed dynamic thermal modelling studies have resulted in minimal renewable technology being required to satisfy the requirements of Approved Document L and BREEAM. Roof mounted photovoltaic panels provide the renewable energy for the project.



“In choosing Rio to design our first building at Central Square we knew we would get a fresh approach to creating a flexible and sustainable environment that would meet the requirements of our target market. This has been reflected by the fact that the whole building was fully let within 6 months of PC. The buildings tenants have all bought into Rio’s design concepts which include a Business Lounge at ground floor, double height reception area and the highest quality finishes to the core facilities. Rio’s approach is to proactively continue the design process throughout the build period which has resulted in Rio delivering us a first class office building that the whole team are proud of.”

Paul McCarthy. Chief Executive of Rightacres Property, the developers behind the one million sqft Central Square Development



Rightacres Property Company Limited

Rio Architects

Willmott Dixon Construction

McCann & Partners Limited



Photo credits: Phillip Roberts Photography and AGC Glass

Case Studies Commercial / Mixed Use Residential / Housing

Port Marine, Portishead

The development lies to the north and east of the old town of Portishead. It abuts the Severn Estuary at the extreme northern edge and is in close proximity to the existing town and Portbury docks.

This development is a good example of the design quality that can be achieved when a co-ordinated project teams from both the developer and local authority work together to masterplan and build out a project on a challenging site. The development consortium focussed on delivering a masterplan creating a sense of place early, providing added value to the site through the use of good quality design professionals.

Port Marine is located above the Severn Estuary in North Somerset and combines waterside living with a marina atmosphere. It is the conversion of a disused contaminated power station site into a mixed-use, mixed-tenure residential development. It comprises of 3420 homes, 69,680m2 of employment and 60,390m2 of retail space, community facilities, green space and water side amenities as well as a 100 acre wildlife reserve. A hierarchy of streets, with public, private and semi-private space, extensive hard paved areas and planting, public art works and varying building types have helped create a unique ‘location’ in an otherwise low value site. The site spans approximately 500 acres in total. The developers have recognised the necessity of creating a “sense of place” through strong design concepts from the earliest stage of development in order to raise confidence in the project and long term value for both the developers and the people who live there.

Design Process
A collaborative approach with the project team and the local planning authority has been taken through the development of Port Marine. Consultants were appointed by North Somerset Council, Portishead Town Council, Bristol City Council and Crest Nicholson to prepare the first detailed Masterplan and design statement which was submitted to North Somerset Council and approved in 2002. Minor amendments were then made to the Masterplan, which was re-submitted and approved in 2005. The developer and local planning authority held regular workshop sessions to form part of the development process for the various updated and revised Masterplans for the different areas and planning applications. There has been a core local planning authority team made up of a project manager, urban designer, highways and development control officer, together with a public arts steering group.

The development has been designed to create a series of terraces, crescents, individual houses and apartment blocks set around communal and more private open spaces which are carefully detailed and landscaped with clearly marked pedestrian zones.

Different architects were responsible for different neighbourhoods which vary in style to include regency, arts and crafts, a Flemish streetscape across the hill and a fishing village vernacular. Key features of the project include developer house types used with small modifications to make the scheme tenure blind, public art was included within the design and all homes have been built to at least EcoHomes standard ‘Good’. The buildings are well detailed and there typology researched and much care has gone into their execution. There is a large amount of public open space, which includes the existing wildlife reserve. When the development is fully completed it will incorporate community facilities such as a library, health centre and a new primary school. A transport interchange will add to existing networks.

Sustainability Credentials
From the outset, the development has been designed to exploit the sites’ potential for sustainable living. The site was assembled from previously developed industrial land that was made up of a power station and other industries. Port Marine is situated close to the existing town of Portishead which has additional facilities, services and activities. Sustainable principles influenced development form and through the use of EcoHomes certification there was a general uplift through a large part of the site in terms of the environmental performance of the housing stock. The development achieves good social, economic and environmental sustainability standards.

EcoHomes Good: 1600 units approx, Very Good: 1000 units, Excellent: 30 units (pre-qualification estimate and post development achievement)
NB. EcoHomes Excellent is roughly equivalent to Code for Sustainable Homes Standard Level 4

Post completion surveys have revealed that 82% of residents were very satisfied with the scheme and their new homes. All shared ownership properties were sold and are appreciating in value at a much greater rate than surrounding properties in Portishead. The scheme has won many design awards including the ‘Building for Life’ Gold Award in 2004 for the Master Plan.

Site density & typical unit area: Various unit types and sizes from apartments to family homes, extra care facilities and care homes. Approximate density of dwellings: maximum 171dwellings per hectare (dph), minimum density 23 dph. 6% (58 dwellings) on the site built at less than 30 dph, the majority of the units have been built at a density of 50+ dph, 30% at 100+ dph. The density at the Fishing Village is 74 dph with waterside high rise blocks 123 – 171 dph. Ashlands (Port Marine Village) consists of mainly family housing house types with some apartments, with 1650 dwellings on a 41 hectare site, the current density range varies from a minimum of 33 dph to a maximum of 60 dph.

Number of dwellings & associated development: 3420 homes, 69,680m2 of employment and 60,390m2 of retail space.

Dwelling type: semi and terraced townhouses of 1,2,3 and 4 bedrooms, flats of 1,2 and 3 bedrooms built to EcoHome standards.

Related Links

Case Studies Commercial / Mixed Use

WJEC Headquarters

Planning and Design Process

Phased construction

The new building had to be built in two phases, as it was constructed alongside and partially overlapping the WJEC’s previous building, which had to be kept in continuous use during the build process.

Flexible spaces

The building comprises three main elements: office work space, a suite of conference rooms and break-out space, and a staff restaurant. The floor plates are designed to provide maximum flexibility for the mix of open plan and cellular space that WJEC requires. Operations require regular movement of departments, construction and dismantling of cellular spaces. To provide for this flexibility, the offices are designed without obstructions at the perimeter. The structural columns, radiators and perimeter power and data trunking are all designed to be flush within the wall thickness. Narrow perimeter columns are set-out at 1.35m centres; this dimension is the ideal module for setting up cellular offices and open plan work stations.

Gateway site

The building occupies a gate-way site on one of the main entry roads into Cardiff. The dual carriageway in front of the building is one of the city’s busiest roads. Elevations facing the road face north away from the sun, elevations facing south into the park – the grade 2 listed  Llandaff Fields, face towards the sun. For these reasons the northerly facing walls are designed to appear like protective walls, with a metal skin and the southerly facing walls have a softer covering of clay hanging tiles.


One of the main features of the south-facing side of the building is the roof-terrace which is accessed direct from the staff restaurant. This terrace will be provided with a grassed area and small trees in planters to provide an attractive resource for staff and for visiting delegates.

Bespoke cladding

The most distinctive feature of the building is the metal cladding that covers the sides of the building that face the dual carriageway; this is a bespoke panel design. The panels are aluminium and are made from a mixture of mill-finish sheet and sheets coated with a clear coloured lacquer. There are three panel shapes that are designed to enable an infinite variety of tessellations. The cladding design is a contemporary re-working of the random polygonal stonework that is a feature of several notable 19th century Cardiff and Llandaff buildings. The design has also revived the stonework pattern for the construction of the stone plinth that runs around the full perimeter of the building. This is made from sandstone cobbles that were dug up from beneath the site of the WJEC building, during the construction of the foundations.

Sustainability Outcomes

Light and ventilation

Excellent levels of daylight and natural ventilation are ensured by the narrow 10m wide office floor plates and work areas with a floor to ceiling height of 3.1m. Every structural beam above a window (transom), is fitted with a bespoke designed up-lighter, dimmable and with Passive Infrared Sensor (PIR) operation, which enables the underside of the ceiling to be kept clear of fittings, so that it functions perfectly as a reflecting surface.

Heating and cooling

The building has a reinforced concrete frame – and the soffit is exposed in the work areas to allow the frame to contribute to temperature regulation (thermal mass). The external walls are over insulated, exceeding current Building Regulation standards. The upper panels of the windows are provided with a white- diffusing film to reduce solar gain, and to maximise the efficiency of the electric lighting – by minimising the amount of light that spills out through the windows. On the southerly facing side of the building, external solar shades are fitted at the transom level (as the upper panel is protected by the solar film). This means that the projection of the solar shading can be kept to minimum. The building is currently heated by gas, but provided with plant room space to accommodate biomass, if required in the future.

Related Links
Capita Architecture



Case Studies Commercial / Mixed Use

Sleeperz Hotel – Cardiff

Planning and Design Process

Urban context

The building responds sympathetically to its urban context by keeping to a similar height in relation to its immediate neighbours. The setback at ground floor along Saunders Road continues the horizontal emphasis of the wall which connects the hotel site to the station buildings. The upper floors are built out over the setback, giving the four storeys above ground a lightness emphasised by its pale limestone facade, echoing the tonal character of the station buildings. The hotel hugs the perimeter of the site, with a curved bullnose to the east end slightly set back from the triangular sharp end of the site, forming a full stop to the station frontage and defining the eastern extremity of the square.

Planning requirements

The design of the hotel was developed in close cooperation with Cardiff City Council Planners, as such the upper four floors of the 74 bedroom hotel are clad in Jura limestone with black mosaic to the lower two floors, in response to planning requirements. The Planning Committee report said; ‘The design is modern and would be a major landmark which would upgrade the local environment without adversely affecting the setting of the adjacent listed buildings, or the St. Mary Street Conservation Area.’

Rail constraint

The building footprint at ground floor generally respects the exclusion zone established to the east of the rail viaduct wall specified by Network Rail. Above the level of the viaduct wall the building steps westward to build partially within the exclusion zone but does not interfere with necessary maintenance or erection of scaffold over the height of the viaduct wall.

Distinctive ambiance

The design of the bedrooms and the fitted furniture are influenced by the character of vintage ships cabins and railway couchettes – compact yet beautifully designed with a mix of luxury, spatial economy and special details such as the object wall, incorporating hanging space, storage, suitcase rack, key/change keep and laptop desk, and the bathroom and bedside furniture. Public areas are contrastingly spacious, with a wood burning stove, dark brown leather effect Ghost sofas and oak flooring creating the welcoming atmosphere of an inn. Kvadrat Chicago panel curtains, Caravaggio pendant lights, Arper easy chairs and coffee tables complete the ordered layout.

Sustainability Outcomes

Public transport accessibility

Located adjacent to integrated transport hub. No car parking to encourage use of public transport.


‘If you look at the site now, you would find it hard to envisage a 74 bedroom hotel occupying the space. The architectural solution unlocks the potential of a difficult site, allowing a dramatic corner building that responds positively to its urban context.’

South Wales Echo

Related links
Peter Clash Architects