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Aberystwyth Creative Units Wales : Welsh Building

Aberystwyth Arts Centre Development, Wales, design by Heatherwick Studio

21 May 2008

Aberystwyth Creative Units

New Creative Landmark for Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth Arts Centre is today celebrating the launch of an extraordinary architectural commission that will provide much needed studio and workshop space for arts organisations in Wales.

Photos: Edmund Sumner

Aberystwyth Creative Units Aberystwyth Arts Centre building Aberystwyth Arts Centre Creative Units

The eight new Creative Units, designed and built by Heatherwick Studio – one of the UK’s most creative design practices. have already established themselves as new landmarks for Aberystwyth and go to further enhance the Art Centre’s reputation as one of the leading venues for contemporary arts and culture in the UK.

The design is both striking and considerate to its setting. The simple timber-frame buildings are clad with a bespoke crinkled stainless steel system that creates a shimmering futuristic appearance, reflecting the greenery of their site. Unusually, their construction as well as their design was led by Heatherwick Studio whose specialist team worked on site with local sub-contractors to deliver the project.

The special cladding system was fabricated on site using a contraption akin to a Victorian mangle that deformed the steel into its irregular form. The studios sit within woodland, and over time will blend further into the maturing landscape around them.

All sixteen studio spaces have been let, with tenants including internationally-renowned painter Mary Lloyd Jones and Creu Cymru – the National Development Agency for Theatres and Arts Centres in Wales.

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Today’s opening, by Alun Ffred Jones AM, Heritage Minister in the Welsh Assembly Government, marks a new chapter in the development of the Centre as an arts community in which ideas can thrive. The new buildings will enable the Centre to increase its economic impact in Wales and beyond, and enhance its role as one of the country’s leading centres for the development of creative businesses, products and activity.

The studios are the latest in a growing list of architectural commissions by Heatherwick Studio that includes the award-winning East Beach Cafe in Littlehampton. Today’s opening takes place one year before the opening of a pavilion by Heatherwick Studio to showcase the UK at the Shanghai 2010 Expo.

Alan Hewson, Director of Aberystwyth Arts Centre said: ‘We are delighted with the studios and Heatherwick’s design. The concept really has captured the imagination of arts organisations and artists in the area. we have formed a creative community here which will work closely with, and will add to the strength of, the growing creative cluster in Aberystwyth.”

Alun Ffred Jones AM said: ‘There is a vibrant contemporary arts scene in Wales and we need to ensure that as many as possible can enjoy it, wherever they live, whatever their background. Culture, in all its forms, is life enhancing. Where there are creative hubs such as Aberystwyth Arts Centre, there are vibrant communities where people want to live and work. It’s as important as setting up business parks.”

Thomas Heatherwick said: ‘Aberystwyth Arts Centre is an ambitious and special place. Our project was about designing buildings that would provide functional light-filled spaces for local artists and creative businesses, but that would be special and particular to this site and the Arts Centre. We have been acting like architectural tailors, building simple forms with an extraordinary skin. The skin will reflect the surroundings and as the young trees and grass begin to mature, the units will feel further embedded into their environment and Aberystwyth.

‘It’s fantastic to hear that the buildings are already all full and being used and loved. We are now looking forward to working with the centre on plans to extend the studios and build a larger temporary building nearby, next year.”

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Mary Lloyd Jones, an artist in residence at Aberystwyth Arts Centre said: ‘One of the reasons for applying for residency was because of the light in the studio. it’s so beautiful. I am very impressed with the layout and design of these units. the space is so interesting and it’s a real treat to be here. Aberystwyth Arts Centre is a wonderful centre. it’s constantly busy and the work that is generated here is quite special. I am excited about future developments and prospects. especially with these new studios.”

This development has been made possible with support from the Arts Council for Wales Lottery Fund, the Welsh Assembly Government and Aberystwyth University.

Aberystwyth Creative Units Wales images / information from Heatherwick Studio

Heatherwick Studio

Work Buildings

Location: Aberystwyth, Wales

Welsh Architecture

Welsh Architecture – Selection

National Assembly for Wales
Richard Rogers Partnership
National Assembly Wales
photo © Katsuisha Kida
National Assembly for Wales

Hafod Eryri
Ray Hole Architects
Snowdon Summit Visitor Centre
image from architects
Snowdon Summit Visitor Centre

Welsh Architect

Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Wales

Aberystwyth Arts Centre – Further Information

Aberystwyth Arts Centre is Wales’ largest Arts Centre. A department of Aberystwyth University, it offers a mix of arts programming, contemporary exhibitions and events unmatched in the nation. Through its education and community arts programme in the visual and performing arts, it provides an important resource for the local community and the region.

The principal objective is to offer a series of studios to accommodate a wide range of creative businesses, arts development agencies, artists and craft workers. The mix of businesses is a unique feature of the development with both new and established occupants interacting together in a creative and stimulating environment to realise their economic and creative potential.

The development of the Creative Arts Business Units has been made possible with support from the Arts Council for Wales Lottery Fund, the Welsh Assembly Government and Aberystwyth University. Two additional studios will be built in 2010 with additional funding received by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Heatherwick Studio was established by Thomas Heatherwick in 1994 to make unique design projects happen.

Building work on the Aberystwyth Creative Arts Business Units started in February 2008, finishing in early December. Ground works of this site were undertaken by E LI Hughes & Son.

Shanghai Expo building design by Heatherwick Studio


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