The University of South Wales aims to develop the ATRiuM site and brand as the education centre for the UK entertainment industry. Through collaboration with key industry players, the new ATRiuM II development will have a distinctive identity and course portfolio. New subject areas will include, 3D media, social media, multi-platform media, consumer technology, advertising, mass entertainment, entertainment technology, performing arts and contemporary dance.

The existing building takes its name from the 5 storey atrium that separates the original, rectangular telecom building (converted to flexible teaching and office space) from the irregular, dynamic enclosure to the studios and auditoria. The imposing atrium, striking studio volume, and bright white cladding, create an iconic image.

A principal aim of the project is to create sympathetic extensions that retain the identity of the existing building and enhance its setting, whilst being significant architectural statements in their own right. New elements also need to reflect the ATRiuM brand qualities, being state of the art, vibrant, and, the best of the best.

Sustainability is a key aim, and BREEAM ‘excellent’ an essential target to demonstrate this. The DQI process provided credits in support of this aim. Being an educational establishment the building also needed to be durable and robust, flexible, low maintenance, economic to run, and comfortable and easy to use for both staff and students.

The stage 1 Briefing included an assessment of the existing building, highlighting strengths and weaknesses in order to benefit the developing design. The Briefing Session identified key areas for more detailed consideration, especially the need for spacious, day lit, circulation spaces, as well as more mundane items such as storage, maintenance and the approach to environmental control.

The Mid Design Assessment confirmed that although there were some areas requiring further consideration, the developing design achieved most of the client’s aspirations. Following discussions around some issues, the design team identified valuable improvements that could easily be incorporated.

Image: University of South Wales