Canolfan Rheidol Offices and Carbon Neutral Energy Centre, Aberystwyth 

Ceredigion County Council

Sustainability Award Winner 2010

Client Ceredigion County Council
Contract Value £16.5M (including Energy Centre)
Practical Completion July 2009
Project Manager Ceredigion County Council
Architect Powell Dobson, Cardiff / Ceredigion County Council
Quantity Surveyors Ceredigion County Council
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers Hore Lea, Cardiff / Atkins Global, Cardiff
Structural Engineer Allan Smith – Capita Symonds
Clerk of Works Ceredigion County Council
Planning Supervisor Ceredigion County Council
Contractor Willmott Dixon Construction, Cardiff / CMB Engineering, Cardiff


The project was developed as part of Ceredigion County Council’s policy of rationalising their Property Asset Portfolio and providing better access to services and information for the County. The 7,273sqm (gross) office building accommodates up to 475 staff members in a primarily open plan office space.

The building design was developed to an environmentally driven brief and provides two mix-mode wings located either side of the full height central atrium. The steel structural frame supports exposed flat pre-cast concrete soffits providing passive environmental control, with cladding materials selected to respond to regional and sustainable requirements.


The client brief for the project included the following aspirations and requirements:

  • To provide a building that improves public access to information and services
  • To provide open plan working in a building that is as green, efficient and functional as possible
  • To provide a building that incorporates innovation, sustainable design features
  • Contributes to the local community as well as to the building users, encouraging public access and participation in Local Government procedures


This gateway site was required to incorporate a landscape corridor and to take into account the context of existing domestic two and three storey buildings to the south and east, as well as the visual impact from distant views

Materials and Methods of Construction

The building form and construction materials were driven by a strong environmental emphasis to ensure the maximum passive environmental control was achieved.

The steel frame solution supports flat pre-cast concrete floor units that are exposed above suspended lighting/acoustic rafts. The north and south wing plan depths are such that natural ventilation can occur and be driven up through the central full height atrium space, with air exiting via BMS controlled louvres at high level. The bold and simple form has been articulated by the use of brise soleil combined with zinc and terracotta cladding.

Energy Efficiency and Carbon Emission Reduction

The key environmental design considerations were:

Predominantly natural ventilation using both manually and automatically operated windows

  • Roof lights and vents to ensure good ventilation and thermal comfort
  • Exposed thermal mass night time cooling
  • Careful orientation and use of solar shading
  • Enhanced thermal and air tightness standards throughout
  • High quality natural day lighting
  • Automated lighting controls with daylight dimming
  • Use of a renewable energy facility for heating and hot water
  • Solar water heating
  • Urban wind turbine to provide on-site generation of electricity

Wider Sustainable Issues

The building design also addresses wider sustainable issues such as:

Maintenance and Management

Throughout the design development process, extensive discussions were held with the Client Groups to ensure that the completed building would operate in a “user friendly” manner.

BREEAM Certification: The office building achieved a BREEAM Excellent Rating with a score of 73.7%. It was also the winner of the 2010 BREEAM Awards Wales.

Effectiveness as a Workplace

A previously fragmented work force has been brought together to facilitate efficiencies and make connections between the six separate service departments working in the new building.

This was achieved by creating a communal, rather than territorial approach to the workplace. Staff collaboration and interaction comes naturally in the open plan environment. The cultural shift away from traditional local government ways of working have also enabled the Council to take full advantage of ICT developments and reduce the demand for storage, printers, and photocopiers.

Since moving to the new building in September 2009, there has been a unique bonding between staff and building. The central full height atrium, a ‘vertical street’, maximizes natural light and ventilation. It also provides views for staff and emphasises the bridge links that create important physical links and strengthen joint service delivery.

The Accessible Office

The building has been designed to allow free and easy access for all visitors and staff. The public reception area includes a ‘Changing Places’ toilet facility, one of only 8 in Wales.