Creative Units at Aberystwyth Arts Centre by
Thomas Heatherwick

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British designer Thomas Heatherwick has completed eight low-cost units for arts businesses at Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Wales.

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The units, which open today, are clad in crinkled stainless steel sheets that are as thin as baking foil.

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Insulation foam is sprayed on the back of the steel to give it rigidity.

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Photos are by James Morris.

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Here's some info from Heatherwick followed by a press release from Aberystwyth Arts Centre:

--

Heatherwick Studio won a competition to design low-cost facilities for sixteen start-up arts enterprises for Aberystwyth Arts Centre, part of the University of Wales Aberystwyth.

img_aberystwyth_1.jpgReluctant to dilute the wooded character of the site by superimposing a single campus-style block, the studio chose instead to set eight smaller buildings among the trees. These consist of simple timber frame sheds, split down their centre and pulled apart to provide light and ventilation and a shared entrance area.

The studio developed a special cladding system for the buildings. As stainless steel is everlasting but expensive, the studio sourced steel the thickness of cooking foil. This makes it affordable, but it crinkles easily, providing neither structural rigidity nor insulation. These problems are overcome by crinkling it in a controlled manner before spraying a CFC-free insulation foam on the back of the crinkled surface.

The paneling is affordable, rigid and well insulated; it accommodates details like eaves and windowsills and has a non- uniformity, reflecting the forest’s leaves and pieces of sky in its facets.

--

New
 Creative 
Landmark 
for 
Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth
 Arts
 Centre
 is
 today
 celebrating
 the
 launch
 of
 an
 extraordinary
 architectural
 commission
 that
 will
 provide
 much
 needed
 studio
 and
 workshop
 space
 for
 arts
 organisations
 in
 Wales.

The
 eight
 new
 Creative
 Units,
 designed
 and
 built
 by
 Heatherwick
 Studio
 ‐
 one
 of
 the
 UK’s
 most
 creative
 design
 practices
 –
 have
 already
 established
 themselves
 as
 new
 landmarks
 for
 Aberystwyth
 and
 go
 to
 further
 enhance
 the
 Art
 Centre’s
 reputation
 as
 one
 of
 the
 leading
 venues
 for
 contemporary 
arts 
and 
culture 
in 
the
 UK.

The
 design
 is
 both
 striking
 and
 considerate
 to
 its
 setting.
 
 The
 simple
 timber‐frame
 buildings
 are
 clad
 with
 a
 bespoke
 crinkled
 stainless
 steel
 system
 that
 creates
 a
 shimmering
 futuristic
 appearance,
 reflecting
 the
 greenery
 of
 their
 site.
 
 Unusually,
 their
 construction
 as
 well
 as
 their
 design
 was
 led
 by
 Heatherwick
 Studio
 whose
 specialist
 team
 worked
 on
 site
 with
 local
 sub‐contractors
 to
 deliver
 the
 project.
 
 The
 special
 cladding
 system
 was
 fabricated
 on
 site
 using
 a
 contraption
 akin
 to
 a
 Victorian
 mangle
 that
 deformed
 the
 steel
 into
 its
 irregular
 form.
 The
 studios
 sit
 within
 woodland,
 and
 over
 time 
will 
blend
 further 
into 
the 
maturing 
landscape
 around 
them.

All
 sixteen
 studio
 spaces
 have
 been
 let,
 with
 tenants
 including
 internationally‐renowned
 painter
 Mary
 Lloyd
 Jones
 and
 Creu
 Cymru
 ‐
 the
 National
 Development
 Agency
 for
 Theatres
 and
 Arts
 Centres
 in
Wales.

Today’s
 opening,
 by
 Alun
 Ffred
 Jones
 AM,
 Heritage
 Minister
 in
 the
 Welsh
 Assembly
 Government,
 marks
 a
 new
 chapter
 in
 the
 development
 of
 the
 Centre
 as
 an
 arts
 community
 in
 which
 ideas
 can
 thrive.
 The
 new
 buildings
 will
 enable
 the
 Centre
 to
 increase
 its
 economic
 impact
 in
 Wales
 and
 beyond,
and 
enhance 
its
 role
 as
 one
 of
 the 
country’s
 leading
 centres 
for
 the 
development
 of 
creative
 businesses,
 products
 and
 activity.

The
 studios
 are
 the
 latest
 in
 a
 growing
 list
 of
 architectural
 commissions
 by
 Heatherwick
 Studio
 that
 includes
 the
 award‐winning
 East
 Beach
 Café
 in
 Littlehampton.
 
 Today’s
 opening
 takes
 place
 one
 year
 before
 the
 opening
 of
 a
 pavilion
 by
 Heatherwick
 Studio
 to
 showcase
 the
 UK
 at
 the
 Shanghai
 2010
 Expo.

Alan
Hewson,
Director
 of 
Aberystwyth
 Arts 
Centre
 said:
 “We
 are
 delighted
 with
 the
 studios
 and
 Heatherwick’s
 design.
 The
 concept
 really
 has
 captured
 the
 imagination
 of
 arts
 organisations
 and
 artists
 in
 the
 area
 –
 we
 have
 formed
 a
 creative
 community
 here
 which
 will
 work
 closely
 with,
 and
 will
 add
 to
 the
 strength
 of,
 the
growing
 creative
 cluster
 in
 Aberystwyth.”

Alun 
Ffred 
Jones 
AM 
said:

“There
 is
 a
 vibrant
 contemporary
 arts
 scene
 in
 Wales
 and
 we
 need
 to
 ensure
 that
 as
 many
 as
 possible
 can
 enjoy
 it,
 wherever
 they
 live,
 whatever
 their
 background.
 Culture,
 in
 all
 its
 forms,
 is
 life
 enhancing.
 Where
 there
 are
 creative
 hubs
 such
 as
 Aberystwyth
 Arts
 Centre,
 there
 are
 vibrant
communities
 where 
people 
want 
to 
live 
and 
work.
It’s 
as 
important 
as
 setting
 up
 business
 parks.”

Thomas
 Heatherwick 
said:
“Aberystwyth
 Arts
 Centre
 is
 an
 ambitious
 and
 special
 place.
 Our
 project
 was
 about
 designing
 buildings
 that
 would
 provide
 functional
 light‐filled
 spaces
 for
 local
 artists
 and
 creative
 businesses,
 but
 that
 would
 be
 special
 and
 particular
 to
 this
 site
 and
 the
 Arts
 Centre.
 We
 have
 been
 acting
 like
 architectural
 tailors
 –
 building
 simple
 forms
 with
 an
 extraordinary
 skin.
 The
 skin
 will
 reflect
 the
 surroundings 
and
 as
 the
 young 
trees
 and
 grass
 begin
 to 
mature, 
the
 units
 will
 feel
 further 
embedded
 into
 their 
environment
 and
 Aberystwyth.

“It’s
 fantastic
 to
 hear
 that
 the
 buildings
 are
 already
 all
 full
 and
 being
 used
 and
 loved.
 We
 are
 now
 looking
 forward
 to
 working
 with
 the
 centre
 on
 plans
 to
 extend
 the
 studios
 and
 build
 a
 larger
 temporary
 building 
nearby,
 next 
year.”

Mary 
Lloyd 
Jones,
 an
 artist
 in
 residence 
at
 Aberystwyth
 Arts
 Centre
 said:

“One
 of
 the
 reasons
 for
 applying
 for
 residency
 was
 because
 of
 the
 light
 in
 the
 studio
 –
 it’s
 so
 beautiful.
 I
 am
 very
 impressed
 with
 the
 layout
 and
 design
 of
 these
 units
 –
 the
 space
 is
 so
 interesting
 and
 it’s
 a
 real
 treat
 to
 be
 here.
 Aberystwyth
 Arts
 Centre
 is
 a
 wonderful
 centre
 –
 it’s
 constantly
 busy
 and
 the
 work
 that
 is
 generated
 here
 is
 quite
 special.
 I
 am
 excited
 about
 future
 developments
 and
 prospects
 - 
especially
 with
 these 
new
 studios.”

This
 development
 has
 been
 made
 possible
 with
 support
 from
 the
 Arts
 Council
 for
 Wales
 Lottery
 Fund, 
the 
Welsh 
Assembly 
Government 
and
 Aberystwyth
 University.

| 18 comments

Posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 12:01 am by . See our copyright policy. Before commenting, please read our comments policy.

  • Justin

    One can appreciate that in total less steel is uses, because the “crinkles’ provide structural strength in the same way that corrugation does. But it does look quite ugly.

    In the US, you can buy popcorn that comes in a foil container. When you put it in the mircowave it expands, resulting in a similar appearance; insulation = popcorn, cladding = foil.

  • http://d2m.ca d2m.ca

    this is a really good idea for the future!

  • AA

    guess what’s getting ripped apart when there is a shortage of steel to go round in the future?

  • davvid

    very cool use of material.

  • lex

    The concept is good. Its innovativing.
    But still these are ugly buildings. To much symmetry and repetition, the volume does have a post-modern composition. The material doesn’t look good aswell.

  • M

    This has to be an award winner, really fab.

  • Son of Bozo

    Looks fragile. Bet its broken in five years.

  • yrag

    To me it just looks like the aluminized insulation before the final cladding goes on. Extremely unappealing and uninviting to my eye.

  • Katsudon

    I can’t explain why, but this design into this landscape seems working for me… Usually not my taste, but a strange charm comes out of those pics. I’d like to experience it in real to confirm…

  • http://whspr.me/Ps Prof. Z

    please give the cost by square meter

  • MT

    Packman Lucas are the structural engineers. Good job!

  • GP

    ''Reflecting
 the
 greenery
 of
 their
 site'' Not exactly, but nice to see innovative use of materials. Must attract the magpies.

    • kkkkkkk

      It does reflect, because foils are reflective in nature.

  • greg

    He always seems to have an interesting concept but the end results are so aesthetically challenged

  • Pietje Puck

    Good use of materials…..
    Design is below expectations!

  • Jes

    for me the design looks great!
    some people think the design doesnt look good but it really stand out~
    i like it!

  • Piero S

    Put in Gas mark 7 for 35mins, meanwhile stir the gravy…….

  • Carlos Alvarez

    …. guess cleaning this buildings will be the worst nightmare in life….