By Emma Videan
The first stage of the new £50m Centre of Student Life building has begun. This stage entails the constructing of hoardings and scaffolding, and marks the beginning of the new building that will eventually mask the current Student’s Union from view. The contractors, who started moving on to the area on 27th November, have also begun removing street furniture, including cycle racks and a cashpoint.
The new building, to be completed in 2020, will run for 140m along Park Place and has been designed to have columns along the front. The architectural aspects of the building were pitched as a nod to iconic buildings in Cardiff, including the National Museum. The modern design of the building could be compared to that of the Royal College of Music and Drama, which hugely impressed people once completed.
However there have been criticisms of the building, including Conservative councillor, Adrian Robson, who said that the building “detracts from everything else.” One of the largest issues that critics have seen is that it will include the demolition of three 141-year-old Victorian villas in Park Place, and will damage the character of the Cathays Park Conservation Area.
The Student Life centre will, however, bring huge benefits to the student community in Cardiff. It will house a variety of student-oriented areas, including a 550-seat lecture theatre, consultation areas for student wellbeing and a student advice bar. The centre also hopes to attract established brands to provide all-day snacking food and beverage services to students, staff, local businesses and the wider community who use this area during university breaks.
The next step in this process is said to be the demolition of existing buildings, which will begin in the early months of 2018.