Cardiff City Central Library 

Cardiff County Council

Project of the Year Winner 2010

Client St David’s Partnership / Cardiff Council
Contract Value £15 million
Date of Practical Completion December 2008
Project Managers & Quantity Surveyors Gardiner & Theobald
Architects BDP Professions – Stride Treglown Davies
Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Foreman Roberts – McCann & Partners
Structural Engineering Arup / Waterman Gore
Main Contractor Laing O’Rourke

Project Description

BDP has designed a state-of-the-art library that enhances the existing range of services on offer in Cardiff, and creates an atmosphere in which all members of the community can enjoy learning, contemplation and relaxation.

The new Cardiff Central Library sits at the southern end of the Hayes. The library, which opened to the public in March 2009, provides quality educational materials, information and entertainment to users of all ages, spread over six storeys. It is a “living room for the city”. The general components of the building consist of library and retail uses at the ground and mezzanine levels with four floors of dedicated library above finishing at the top with a partial plant floor. The library area provided is 55,000 sq ft, of which 5,000 sq ft is at ground floor. The rest ofthe ground floor accommodates A3 Retail units comprising approximately 16,000 sq ft.

Cardiff library is part of the St David’s development in central Cardiff. St David’s is a joint development between Land Securities and Capital Shopping Centres. St David’s opened in late 2009 and builds on present assets including the existing St David’s Shopping Centre and much of the Hayes. The scheme is set to transform the Southern end of the City and give a currently underused area a new lease of life by creating attractive and safe public spaces for people to enjoy. The St David’s development brings new stores, cafes, restaurants and luxury residential apartments to the heart of Cardiff, as well as enhanced public areas and facilities and a modernisation of the existing St David’s Shopping Centre. The original Cardiff Library was demolished as part of the St David’s development, therefore a temporary library was provided by St David’s Partnership and the new library was funded and constructed by St David’s Partnership under a s106 agreement to replace the original library. The new library is now owned and operated by Cardiff Council.

One of the planning conditions stated that the library should achieve a minimum BREEAM rating of ‘Very Good’, which would deliver an improvement on environmental performance compared to minimum legal standards, but not a substantial improvement. As the library was provided to the Council under a s106 agreement, there was a risk that a poor quality building would be provided to simply discharge the obligations of the s106 agreement with as little effort, cost and risk as possible to the developer. However, St David’s Partnership and the design team were committed to delivering a sustainable building which met the requirements of BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and the needs of the local community within the agreed construction budget for the library.

Design and construction of the library was undertaken via the ‘Design and Build’ process. St David’s Partnership initially appointed a design team in 2004, led by BDP Architects, to develop the concept design, including structural and building services systems, outline specifications and cost plan. The contractor, Laing O’Rourke (LO’R), was then appointed in 2006 to progress the original design through detailed design and construction. The original design team was retained by St David’s Partnership to monitor the detailed design and construction on their behalf.

A Bespoke BREEAM 2005 assessment was required, as there is no standard BREEAM tool available for libraries. The initial library design was reviewed by the BREEAM Centre, who then established a suite of bespoke criteria for the BREEAM assessment. At the time of design, ‘Excellent’ was the highest BREEAM rating available. It was considered an exemplar standard and was achieved by only a small proportion of buildings. The ‘Outstanding’ rating is new under BREEAM 2008, and hence was not available at the time.

Francois Samuel – Head of the Construction Unit, Department of Environment, Sustainability and Housing at the Welsh Assembly Government – presenting the 2010 CLAW Building of the Year Award to David Young of Cardiff Council. Also in the picture are Councillor Goronwy Edwards, Chairman of CLAW and Keith Morgan, Chairman of the Board of Nominated Officers