Pilkington Planar structural glass system is on show at The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre in Newport - a major new cultural facility in the city, and one of the first things visitors arriving by train to South Wales see.
The flagship development on the banks of the River Usk makes a striking impression with its fully transparent double-height foyer, which utilises the market-leading Pilkington Planar system. The entrance unites the individual elements of the building and provides a professional look to the centre.
The brief called for a ‘landmark’ building – one to act as a catalyst for further development along the riverside. Comprising the theatre and studio theatre spaces, a dance studio, recording studio, exhibition gallery, function room, three workshop spaces, crèche, shop, café, bar and all the necessary technical, administrative and theatrical ancillary spaces, the centre was a massive project.
It soon became even bigger. Whilst excavating for the orchestra pit of the theatre, the remains of a 15th century ship were discovered. It has since been dated to pre-1465, and the find’s importance has been equated to that of the Mary Rose. During its six-month excavation, a vast new exhibition space was designed and built in self-compacting waterproof concrete beneath the foyer, to house and display the discoveries: presenting the ship’s unearthing, its history and eventually the fully-conserved ship itself. The design needed to be an integral part of the building as a whole and had to be constructed around the piles already in the ground, without compromising the existing facilities.
Pilkington Planar was specified by architects Austin - Smith: Lord for the entrance area - an open, bright and fresh, space designed to draw visitors in. Martin Roe, partner at Austin – Smith: Lord, comments: “The design concept is centered on the expression of solid and void together; creating a link between the City centre and the riverfront. Transparency of the void spaces was therefore of crucial importance and the Pilkington system enabled this to be achieved whilst meeting the technical and cost parameters.”
Accredited Pilkington Planar installer Bridgetown Developments were the obvious choice for the demanding job. Ian Cartwright of Bridgetown Developments added: “Pilkington Planar provided us with the scope to create a complete glass façade to the foyer overlooking the River Usk and the centre piece entrance lobby constructed entirely with glass panels. Pilkington Planar is sold as the world’s leading structural glass system, and comes with all the technical back-up and design support we expected of Pilkington ".