Gwyn Hall Redevelopment, Neath 

Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council

Project of the Year Award Winner 2013

Name of client Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council
Contract value £7M
Project Manager Richard Sims, EC Harris LLP
Architect Wilco Stekkinger, Holder Mathias Architects
Quantity Surveyor Gavin Willis, EC Harris
Mechanical Engineer Ken Briggs, Hoare Lea
Electrical Engineer David Hilton, Hoare Lea
Structual Engineer Gary Alan, AKS Ward
Clerk of Works Edwin Prosser, NPTCBC
Planning Supervisor Graham Withnell, EC Harris
Main Contractor Tom Davies, Morgan Sindall

Project Description

Following a fire that devastated the Grade II listed Gwyn Hall in Neath during its refurbishment in October 2007, Holder Mathias were appointed by Neath-Port Talbot County Borough Council to create a modern community theatre and arts centre, and a landmark facility within the town centre.

The building briefly comprises a brand new 395-seat multi-purpose auditorium, 70-seat digital cinema and dance studio, together with a café- bar and other ancillary facilities, all whilst retaining, repairing and restoring the building’s original outer shell.

The challenge to fit all the required facilities within the existing building shell was solved by stacking the three main performance venues inside the existing structure, whilst adding a lightweight glazed extension to the front of the building to house box office and café facilities, and creating a simple rear extension to house toilets, offices, plant and backstage facilities.

Architecturally, the response has sought to try and retain a sense of space within each of the main facilities, and in doing so responding and respecting the original building features.

Sustainability Aspects

The client was keen to achieve a good performance rating on the building’s energy performance certificate as a measure to reduce their energy costs and with it their carbon emissions. Considering the listed status of the building shell, they requested a ‘B’ rating, which was eventually achieved.

Reduced Energy Consumption

When dealing with performance venues such as these, the functional requirements of the performance spaces often preclude the use of natural ventilation or day-lighting.

In this case however, due to the limited site area, and the listed status of the building there was not enough space to accommodate air handling plant for either the studio or cinema pods. In order to overcome this, Cadw allowed a roof ridge ventilator to be built to allow these spaces to be ventilated naturally.

In addition, in response to the multi-purpose aspects of the brief, both the studio space and the main auditorium have been given the option of being used in total black out for performances, or with the touch of a button, black out blinds can be retracted to leave the spaces flooded with natural light.

Dr Alan Knight (Advisor to Business and the Community (BITC)) presenting the 2013 Building of the year award to David Phillips of Neath Port Talbot County Borough with the Chairman of CLAW, Cllr Wyn Evans of Carmarthenshire