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Education + Visitor Centre, Aberthaw

At the root of RWE Npower’s brief lay the company’s long-term goal: to generate all power from cleaner or renewable resources by 2010. This project was to serve as a flagship building to promote this key aim. The building needed to demonstrate: design innovation; a didactic learning environment for visitors and staff; renewable resources as a means of education; strong use of recyclable materials; a collaboration between local skills and resources.

The requirements of the brief were rationalised into two principal building functions: an education resource and visitor centre to Aberthaw Power Station and a training facility for RWE npower staff.

In addition to the functional requirements of the building it was also important that the design expressed the environmental initiatives and workings of the Centre, as well as taking advantage of the building’s unique setting. This site was located to the southwest corner of the Aberthaw Power Station compound, bounded to the north by the power station and to the east and south by the sea defence wall and heritage coastline with SSSI designation. The formal design of the building emerged from connections between these two distinct areas of the natural and the manmade. The building comprises three key zones: a cellular, tactile, robust timber framed space for staff training, opening out into the steel framed atrium with services exposed, leading to the educational facility. The atrium showcases all the building services and renewable technologies. From here visitors can access the viewing platform above and steel ‘fin’, containing air source heat pumps and providing a housing for future technologies. Photovoltaic panels across the roof and a rainwater harvesting system work to create a low carbon building. The low maintenance shell and use of robust and durable materials add to the longevity and low running costs of the building. There is also the facility for future expansion allowed for within the existing structural frame.

Ensuring young people have the skills they need for the future is very important and facilities like this one are important so that they can inspire students with visits outside of the classroom.

Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales

RWE Npower
650 m². Site 0.675 hectares
Completed 2010
Shortlisted for National Eisteddfod Gold Medal and Galvanising Association Awards 2011

Plans + Sketches