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Cardiff University Centre for Student Life


Cardiff, Wales, UK

Design competition: 2015

This competition entry for the Centre for

With overlapping panels of cladding that

Outer circulation spines evoke the arcade

Student Life proposes bringing together

resemble the skin of a dragon, the university's

typology of the university’s traditional campus

student activities and services that support

mascot, the building envelope communicates

buildings. Glazed roofs allow for natural

Cardiff University’s reputation as a global

its goal of integrating exceptional research

light to create a welcoming environment in

destination of choice for learning. Located

and education.

these transition spaces. An arcade adjacent

between the university’s main building and

to the student union features a digital wall

student union and next to the Cathays railway

The building skin forms the southern, main

with a projective surface that uses state-

station, the new facility will be a vibrant hub

facade by creating a sealed envelope with its

of-the-art technology to display imagery for

for campus life.

diagrid-structured, unitized glazing system. A

presentations and exhibits.

layer of protective “scales” mitigates daylight The design enhances connectivity by focusing

and allows for natural ventilation. Though

on the center’s relationship to campus

the system relies on a limited number of base

buildings and primary access points. A large

modules, its parametric setup provides for

atrium unifies surrounding facilities and

careful variation and adaptation to different

new construction and provides a network of

conditions. The orientation of the scales can

pathways to foster chance encounters.

be altered to enhance visual connections and moderate the amount of light and

The building connects to the adjacent

airflow. Designed to accommodate colored

railway station by creating a canopy above

photovoltaic panels, the metallic scales

the pedestrian bridge. It also extends from

provide a bold display of the university’s

the main auditorium to cantilever above a

commitment to sustainability.

landscaped outdoor plaza.

◄ aerial view

2016 design annual

113,990 sq. ft. / 10,590 sq. m.

2016 HOK Design Annual  

HOK’s 2016 Design Annual highlights projects ranging in scale from community gardens to supertall buildings.