By Emma Videan
This summer, work has begun to build a new student centre that will cost Cardiff University £50million. The project is in direct response from student feedback and is in partnership with Cardiff University’s Student Union and is part of the biggest upgrade that the university has seen for a generation, which is an overall investment of £600 million.
It is a huge success for the students who have had their voices heard by the university to upgrade their student union into a more modern and attractive place to study and socialize.
The plans are for the building to cover the current site of 46-49 Park Place as well as the Student Union building that was originally constructed in the 1970s. This will be a huge space covering four floors. Included in the building will be a 550-seat lecture theatre with up-to-date technology, bookable study spaces and consultation rooms. The building will also give the students more retail and catering outlets than the Students Union currently provides.
Not only will it be a focal point to the university campus but it will also provide a space for support and advice for students. These pastoral care services will focus on careers, mental health, international student support and advice on money. All of these are vital services for the university to provide for its 30,000 students of whom many will be living away from home for the first time in Cardiff.
For the university’s healthcare students whom are based at Heath Park or students that are not located locally to the Cathays campus there are plans for the virtual services that the university provides to also be updated ensuring access for all.
A key feature of the project is the sustainability of the build. With such a large project to complete it is important to ensure that the building is both energy efficient and allows for renewable technology to reduce the carbon footprint of the building. The plan includes using natural ventilation and a green roof.
To ensure that these sustainable plans are to the upmost standard, the building will be assessed under Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). So far, the centre is likely to achieve an Excellent score through measurements in categories such as energy and ecology.
While the building work aims to create an environmentally advanced building, factors cannot be ignored about the disruption that this building work will create. One example of this is that there have been tree removals in late June of this year. While ecologists did examine the trees to prevent damage to ecosystems, such as potential birds nests, there is no doubt that building work to this degree will affect and change the aesthetics of Park Place