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Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café, Llanbedrog

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Mark Wray Architects' sea urchin-shaped café has simple form but technical challenges, overcome by collaboration which wins Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw 2024 RSAW Client of the Year Award

Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography

2024 RSAW Award
2024 RSAW Client of the Year 

Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café, Llanbedrog
Mark Wray Architects, Sanderson Sculptures and Fold Engineering for Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw
Contract value: £1,165m
GIA: 225m2
Cost per m2: £5,178

Located in north-west Wales with views of Llanbedrog Bay, the new café at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre is an inventive intervention in a sensitive heritage setting. The centre, designated as Wales’s oldest art gallery, is housed in a Grade II* listed mansion house and is a lively, multi-faceted venue encompassing gallery, museum, performance venue and event space.

Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw is an independent arts centre managed by a charitable trust and steeped in more than 120 years of history. It now thrives as a social enterprise acting as an important cultural destination for north-west Wales. The creative approach and liberty provided by the client throughout the design process was crucial in enabling the imaginative and technical outcome of the café.

  • Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
    Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
  • Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
    Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
  • Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
    Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
  • Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
    Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
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The client enlisted the skills of Matthew Lane Sanderson, a sculptor with ties to the arts centre who, inspired by marine life and historical influences found in Llanbedrog Bay, developed the concept of the sea urchin form. This is embraced not only in the shape of the building, but also its external finish: it is covered in over 80,000 stainless steel ‘barnacles’, each one mechanically formed and hand-welded to produce the reflective, light-permeable shell.

While a simple form, this brought technical challenges of structure, thermal comfort, acoustics, and function which were collaboratively overcome by artist, architect and engineer. The 12-segment structure has been expressed and cleverly reduced to appear lightweight. Its dome-like roof with a central oculus is constructed from structural insulated panels (SIPs) that offer high thermal performance. An internal finish of acoustic plaster is applied to moderate sound in the café but it also hides the roof panel facets, resulting in a seamless finish that accentuates the dome form.

  • Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
    Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
  • Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
    Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
  • Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
    Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
  • Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
    Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
  • Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
    Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre Café. Credit: Gareth Jenkins Photography
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Since completion of the café, the arts centre has recorded increases in both footfall and revenue. Yet more than this, the café continues the long tradition at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw of understanding the importance of architecture and the built heritage.

See the rest of the RSAW Wales winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor OBR Construction
Structural engineer Fold
Environmental/M&E engineer KGA
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Adeiladol Cyf

Credit: Mark Wray Architects, Sanderson Sculptures and Fold Engineering
Credit: Mark Wray Architects, Sanderson Sculptures and Fold Engineering
Credit: Mark Wray Architects, Sanderson Sculptures and Fold Engineering
Credit: Mark Wray Architects, Sanderson Sculptures and Fold Engineering
Credit: Mark Wray Architects, Sanderson Sculptures and Fold Engineering
Credit: Mark Wray Architects, Sanderson Sculptures and Fold Engineering

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