Saturday, November 20, 2010

National Assembly for Wales

The debating chamber in Cardiff Bay, the Senedd (English:Senate), was designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership and built by Taylor Woodrow, with environmental and MEP design by BDSP Partnership. It uses traditional Welsh materials such as slate and Welsh Oak in its construction, and the design is based around the concepts of openness and transparency. The Timber ceiling and centre funnel, manufactured and installed by BCL Timber Projects (sub-contracted by Taylor Woodrow) is made from Canadian sourced Western Red Cedar.
The Senedd houses the debating chamber (Welsh: Siambr) and Committee Rooms. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on St. David's Day, 1 March 2006.

The Senedd is designed to be environmentally friendly: it uses an Earth Heat Exchange system for heating; rainwater is collected from the roof and used for flushing toilets and cleaning windows, and the roof features a wind cowl which funnels natural light and air into the debating chamber below.

The building also has a commanding view of the Cardiff Bay.  When the sun shines in Wales, it is very bright, and it was a pleasure to sit on the waterfront and soak in the rays.

The Welsh parliamentary system is a "work in progress" and is an interesting subject in itself.  When I visited the building, there was an awards ceremony for an academic writing contest.  The hall was filled with "good vibe" contemporary pop songs as the awards were presented, including U2's "Its a Beautiful Day". 
I could not help but be impressed by this seeming innocuous display of engineering brilliance.  The glass fins, surrounding the turnbuckle that supports the canopy, adjacent to a glass railing and another glass enclosed elevator (like the one at the Sainsbury Centre). 

The positive energy in the air and around Cardiff in general was amazing.  Cardiff has a fantastic city centre that is pedestrian only, and the largest one of its kind that I have seen in the UK. 

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