The £22 million building started on site in January 2009 and was officially opened in September 2010. With an area of 8800m2 it will accommodate around 650 staff and house various departments, as well as a public access area known as "Y Bont" (The Bridge).
Architects Austin-Smith: Lord’s design, based on an initial concept design by Aedas Architects, consists of three "fingers" of office space over three floors which radiate out from the hillside. Two double height atria spaces link the fingers and provide meeting spaces, restaurant and ancillary accommodation.
External materials were carefully selected to reflect those local to the area. As Austin-Smith:Lord explained: "Whilst the main external material is Welsh slate from the local quarry at Bethesda, the use of copper was also of prime importance as it creates a "seam" running through the building commencing with the North Elevation, where an imposing arch announces the main entrance of the building. The copper then reappears on the West Elevation and again on the East Elevation to highlight the projecting "Delta" area. The use of copper makes reference to historic copper mines of the Great Orme in Llandudno."
Utilising traditional materials in a modern form creates a landmark building which respects the heritage of the area and the high quality design demanded by the Welsh Assembly Government. But also fundamental was the requirement for a reduced carbon footprint and an "Excellent" BREEAM rating. BREEAM is the BRE Environmental Assessment Method - the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings, setting the standard for best practice in environmental sustainability.
The project has also been awarded the 2010 BREEAM Award for Wales in the Bespoke Category – for the highest scoring building certified under BREEAM in Wales over the year. Winning projects must have excelled in every environmental category within BREEAM. The building design incorporates many sustainable qualities and the use of copper was a major consideration in achieving sustainability requirements and also the BREEAM rating.
This article was published in 30/2011 issue of Copper Architecture Forum magazine.