MacEwen longlist: Welsh Water visitor and watersports centres

Opening up a beautiful rural waterscape for the benefit of all

Hall + Bednarczyk Architects for Dwr Cymru Welsh Water

Location: Llandegfedd Reservoir, Monmouthshire

There is only one not-for-profit water company in the UK and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water is it: any financial surplus it makes is reinvested to benefit the community in Wales.  This £2m development is an example: the company wished to improved public accessibility to its 50-year-old Llandegfedd Reservoir. Specifically it wanted two new facilities – a 500m2 visitor centre and a 300m2 watersports centre to replace inadequate existing facilities for a watersports school and sailing club. Hall + Bednarczyk won the two-stage competition and led the project. 

The two-storey visitor centre by the water’s edge places visitor facilities on the first floor, offering panoramic views, while the ground floor is devoted to Welsh Water’s rangers. The design of the building captures its setting: approached from the car park above, it presents the fluid roof form as a fifth elevation, conceived as as scooped-out rectangular gulp of the water beyond. The watersports centre, designed in close consultation with its users, evolved as a refined boatshed with a first-floor clubhouse capturing the views of the craft out on the water.

Both buildings have provided a considerable social catalyst for public engagement with the reservoir both on and off the water. The project fostered a change of company policy to allow public access round the entire reservoir. A site of considerable natural and man-made beauty has become a tangibly welcoming and healthful place for the people of South Wales.