‘Overbearing’ new building in development for Park Place

By Maria Mellor

Cardiff University plans to demolish three Victorian houses on Park Place to make way for a new ‘Centre for Student Life’.

The university hopes the new building will become the new hub for non-academic student activity. It will stand in the current location of the 46 Park Place and 47-49 Park Place buildings and will incorporate the current students’ union building, linking it with a pedestrian bridge to connect to Cathays Railway Station.

Professor Colin Riordan, Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor, said: “The Centre for Student Life is a significant investment in our students and their learning experience here in Cardiff.”

The multi-million pound project was designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) after a competition was launched to find a team of architects to plan the ‘one-stop shop for students’.

FCBS partner Tom Jarman said: “Situated on Park Place between the Main Building and the Students’ Union, the new facility will provide excellent learning and support environments to students at the University.

“The project will also serve to create much improved connections to the Students’ Union and Cathays railway station beyond.”

However, have been some objections to the proposal from people worried it would not suit the aesthetic of the older buildings situated on Park Place.

Nerys Lloyd-Pierce chairman of Cardiff Civic Society said: “Aesthetically, the proposed scheme jars with neighbouring buildings due to its size and the fact that it fronts Park Place, rather than being set back from it.

“The Cardiff Civic Society has no objection to a new Centre for Student Life in principle, however, the current design is far too overbearing for its location.”

Cardiff University said the CSL is designed to enhance students’ experience and well-being.

Professor Riordan said: “Our students rightly expect the very best facilities in every part of their Cardiff education and I am therefore delighted that we have secured designers with a proven track record for this type of high-profile project.”

Student opinion is split on the matter. On second year student we spoke to said: “It looks so practical. What it has is what we need.”

It is intended that the functionality of the current students’ union building will not be compromised. A university spokesperson said: “The current range of student services will continue to be available and will be undergoing development and improvements over the next few years before the Centre for Student Life opens.”

The university does not yet have planning permission for the project. Work to build The Centre for Student Life is scheduled to start in January or February next year to open in September 2019.