By the 1980s, Cardiff Bay in South Wales was a byword for post-industrial degeneration. A century of global trade and heavy-industrial prosperity had given way to fifty years of stagnation and decline, leaving the bay and its docks with a legacy of deprivation, economic torpor and environmental degradation. Incrementally, over intervening decades, progress has been made towards regenerating these despoiled wastelands. 

When the BBC opened its Roath Lock Studios in 2012, it kick-started the emergence of a new creative cluster at Porth Teigr, centred around the studios, which generated demand for co-working space among emerging digital media companies.

Gloworks has been constructed as part of a strategy for meeting this demand. Mark Hallett, development director for the Porth Teigr scheme said: “It’s really good for Cardiff to have these kinds of developments which bring creative companies into the capital. To be seen as a successful and growing city, it needs to be attracting these types of businesses.”

Gloworks Ash Sakula Architects street view of six-storey office and studio space

Gloworks provides BREEAM Excellent rated co-working spaces for creative and media companies, with all the benefits of easy-in-easy-out business terms, proximity to the BBC and high levels of connectivity between companies and individuals that work there.

A simple rectangular building comprising six floors of office and studio space, Flexibility and adaptability are fundamental design values. Floors can be open plan, cellular or a combination of both, and can serve a single or multiple users.

We also built into the building opportunities for convivial chance encounters that can uncover worthwhile synergies between individuals and companies.

On the roof, a communal roof terrace looking across Cardiff Bay is a meeting point, while the ground floor gives building users a club space, with reception, meeting rooms and social spaces are bookended by retail spaces.

 Gloworks Ash Sakula Architects co-working flexible space view from street

We imagined the building as a stack of irregularly bound timber, held within smooth brick walls. On its end-elevations, the baulks of the timbers project differentially, like a stack of cargo crates in which some of the crates have separated from the main pile. This treatment references the vast cargoes of timber which passed through Roath Dock - mainly Baltic pine used to make pit props for the South Wales coalfield.

End elevation window detail of Gloworks by Ash Sakula Architects

Detail of the building's end elevation

Aerial sketch view of Gloworks by Ash Sakula Architects

Early sketch view

Historic aerial view of Cardiff Bay with the site of Gloworks by Ash Sakula Architects

Cardiff Bay in its maritime heyday. The site of Gloworks is shown in pink.

Aerial context view of Gloworks by Ash Sakula Architects

Gloworks in the context of Cardiff Bay. Along with the BBC Studios, Gloworks forms the first piece of an emerging masterplan for the regeneration of Roath Basin. The strategy is to extend the civic, governmental, retail and cultural energy of Cardiff Bay with a development plan that retains flexibility to adapt to changing requirements as they emerge.

Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos

Client: Welsh Assembly Government and igloo Regeneration
Contractor: Vinci
Project Manager: Davis Langdon
Structural Engineer: Bay Associates
M+E Engineer: Hoare Lee
BREEAM consultant: Michael Cox
Cost Consultant: Gardiner & Theobald

Site: 4,074 sqm
Value: £6.5m

Rated BREEAM Excellent

Sketchup view of Gloworks by Ash Sakula Architects

Gloworks on the right, with the BBC's Roath Lock Studios, left.

Read more about the thinking behind this project:
Windows on Gloworks by Ash Sakula Architects

Simple, regularly spaced windows provide natural cross ventilation.

Axonometric floor plans of Gloworks by Ash Sakula Architects

Six floors of adaptable co-working space

Copper entrance canopy of Gloworks by Ash Sakula Architects

Upview of entrance canopy

View from the dry dock

Design sketch