Gloworks

By the 1980s, Cardiff Bay in South Wales was the epitome of 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, 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.”

A close-up detail of the facade at the entrance to one of the upper apartments. Profiled translucent fibreglass back by silver foil, with strands of electrical cable in the interstices. Chain link fencing surrounds each upper flat's terrace.

Being briefed to produce two-bedroom apartments, each measuring just 67m², precipitated a re-appraisal of the spatial priorities of the traditional small flat, which resulted in an unconventional but extremely workable configuration.

The dwellings are identically arranged around an enlarged hallway where the space is both light and complex - anything but a corridor. It is large enough to hold a desk or daybed, a place to sort laundry or an area for children to play.

Bedrooms are kept as small as possible. Clothes, for example, are stored elsewhere. While the kitchen is the main social space of the flat, the living room is a cosy (with)-drawing room that can also be a home office or guest room.

Bathrooms and WCs are separate. Each is spacious, has a large basin and an opening window.

The plan above was made at competition stage.

Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Read more about the thinking behind this project:

The corrugated cladding set against silver foil creates lavender and turquoise reflections. In the corrugation's interstices are suspended twisted strands of black and white electrical cabling, adding to the kinetic parallax illusion created as one passes the buildings - an effect developed by Ash Sakula in collaboration with the artist Vinita Khanna.

A few weeks after the residents moved in we received this painting from the Brewer family. It said, "Thank you for our incredible home." In an accompanying letter the Brewers wrote, "... we have never seen anything better designed for us as a family. Thank you for all your thoughtful hard work."

Animators Wrench & Franks made a short video of the project. Here is a still from the closing sequence.

Client: Welsh Assembly Government and Igloo Regeneration