Cardiff Bay Visitors Centre

Alsop, Lyall & Stormer, Cardiff, 1990


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Fabric streched over steel tube form 

Mike Jones     Download Original

  • Fabric streched over steel tube form    
  • East view of visitors centre    
  • Internal exhibition space    
  • View across Cardiff Bay through glazed end of tube    
  • Three curved layers of plywood forming external shell    
  • Wall and floor junction    
  • Deck level floor plan    
  • Cross Section    
  • Long Section    
  • Patent glazing detail    
  • Floor edge detail    

Temporary visitor centre exhibiting the redevelopment strategy for Cardiff Bay

The centre houses a series of exhibitions explaining the regeneration strategy of the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation for the rundown dockland quarter of the city. These included the Cardiff Bay Barrage, for which Alsop designed the architectural and landscape elements. Beyond serving its functional brief, however, the building has become a landmark and a symbol of urban regeneration.

Originally designed for a site next to the monumental Victorian Pierhead Building, the Centre was moved to another site close by in 1993–94.

Oval steel ribs support marine plywood panels and are supported on a steel substructure, with track-like foundations. The floor level sits within this space. At each end the tube is fully glazed to provide views over the water or over the docklands sites. It is covered in a weather-proof PVC-coated fabric skin, pegged underneath like the fly-sheet of a tent.

The interior is spacious and the use of diffused daylight, filtering through a series of abstract shapes cut into the skin, provides an agreeable setting for the displays.


  • Begun: Jun 1990
  • Completed: Oct 1990
  • Floor area: 600m2
  • Sector: Civic
  • Total cost: £300,000
  • Address: Harbour Drive , Cardiff Bay , Cardiff, CF10 4PA, United Kingdom

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