By Gabriella Mansell
Local town planners have approved the most recent phase of Cardiff University’s £300million pound innovation campus project. The project consists of two new buildings which aim to bring together bring researchers, businesses, public sector backers and students together to unlock ideas that drive economic growth.
The consent from Cardiff City Council’s paves the way for a development, which brings benefits for all, from cafes and creative areas to public open spaces. This is part of the fully-funded £135m project which is being constructed on the city’s brownfield Maindy Park is the latest phase in Cardiff’s mission to embed innovation in University life.
The innovation building has been designed by Architecture practices Hawkins\Brown and HOK both designed a building for the project, working alongside site master planners BDP and town planning consultancy DPP. The campus project ‘vision’ was first outlined two years ago by Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan who said the scheme would establish centres of excellence that push benefits back into the economy to create a self-sustaining cycle for growth.
When questioned about the scheme Professor Riordan said: “A new campus helps us create opportunities for all. Cutting-edge research, technology transfer, business development and student enterprise will put ideas to work.
“Our innovation ambitions go beyond the sum of the physical buildings. We are hiring internationally-renowned academics who can build world-class teams of post-doctoral researchers. We are equipping students with the skills they’ll need to set up future ventures. And we’re continuing to attract major UK and international funding across private and public sectors to make Cardiff the home of innovation.”
The campus will host a range of innovation facilities including, The Institute for Compound Semiconductors, Cardiff Catalysis Institute, SPARK: the world’s the world’s first social science research park and The Innovation Centre – a creative base for start-ups, working in partnership with the Medicentre, a clinical innovation incubator based at Heath Park.
The new project will feature an event space, restaurant, and a flowing staircase, Innovation Central’s public areas will connect researchers with the local community, creating social interaction, recreation space, alfresco dining, and exhibition and events space with research potential. Also available will be a small area for office and lab space which will be allow both small start-ups and major corporations who want to work within one of the UK’s leading research University.
Oliver Milton, partner at Hawkins\Brown, said: “The Innovation Central Building is a really exciting project. In generating our design, we worked closely with Cardiff University to develop new models for space use and the integration of industrial partnerships and collaboration in an HE context.
“This has resulted in a very clear design with interactive working spaces organised around a central ‘Oculus’ that connects the seven storeys. Shared facilities include a Ted-ex style event space and a fabrication lab to trial new manufacturing technologies.”
The Innovation Campus is the third phase of development at Maindy Park following the opening of The Hadyn Ellis Building in 2013, and Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, opened by Her Majesty The Queen in June.
In addition to two new buildings, each covering 12,000 sq m, this latest third phase includes a bridge linking Cardiff Business School with the Innovation Campus.
This development runs alongside the Centre of Student Life building, which will merge with the current Student Union to create a collection the best facilities in every part of the Cardiff University experience.