National Assembly for Wales

National Assembly for Wales - Concept

RRP employed the idea of openness and transparency as the driving factor in the design. The building was not to be an insular, closed edifice. Rather it would be a transparent envelope, looking outwards to Cardiff Bay and beyond, making visible the inner workings of the Assembly and encouraging public participation in the democratic process.

The idea of openness is exemplified by the organisation of the building, with public spaces elevated on a slate-clad plinth stepping up from the water and cut away to allow daylight to penetrate the administrative spaces below, thereby enabling a visual connection between the electorate and the elected.

A lightweight, gently undulating roof shelters both internal and external spaces, extending downwards to encapsulate the chamber. The roof is pierced by the wind cowl that rises above the debating chamber at the centre of the building. The large roof surface ensures that at pedestrian level, the Assembly, which is in fact the smallest building in the immediate area, has the most significant visual impact.

The dominant horizontal elements: the roof plane and the landscaped plinth, define an enclosure with the adjoining buildings that extends beyond the immediate confines of the site. The roof defines the principle spaces within the building in the undulations of its curved trajectory, while the plinth rises out of the bay to define the public realm, rendering the entire design a concise expression of the newly created Assembly.

A connection is created between the new building and Cardiff Bay, creating a fully integrated public place that engages passers by, allowing them to enjoy the waterfront and participate in the democratic process. Materials, especially local slate, have been chosen to unify the landscape.

The Debating Chamber is the physical and metaphorical centre of the design, and is surrounded by public space so that it is open and accessible to all. The Chamber is signalled by a dramatic bell form projecting above the roof line, inspired by RRP’s previous collaboration with the artist Anish Kapoor.