Project Alex is the complete refurbishment and redevelopment of the Grade II listed former Central Library on Alexandra Road Swansea, along with the creation of a contemporary new extension to create a new international academic centre.

The scheme will provide academic accommodation for the Product Design, Automotive Design and Architectural Glass, alongside knowledge transfer facilities, to promote links with industry. This will promote a dynamic Design Exchange to stimulate knowledge evolution and technology transfer in Wales design sector’.

  • Client University Of Wales Trinity Saint DAvid
  • Completed 2014
  • Budget £9m
project alex

The project comprises a double skin facade, which minimises heat gain, regulates glare and provides fresh air intake into the new design studios whilst offering acoustic protection from the urban environment. A sedum roof covers the new extension and PV arrays are installed on the pitched roofs of the original building. The historic fabric also boasts the ornate Central Reading Room, which has been restored to its former glory. This new landmark will assist in consolidating the renaissance of Swansea’s historic arts quarter.

An Italianate Grade II Listed building on Alexandra Road in Swansea, built in 1887 as the new Swansea Public Library.  Also offering workshop and art gallery spaces, the building was further extended in both the 1930s and 1960s to offer a wide range of educational facilities.  The city library vacated the building in 2007, offering the University of Wales Trinity St. David an opportunity to refurbish the listed fabric and extend the building to create state-of-the-art educational facilities for their Glass, Digital Media, Automotive and Product Design courses alongside space for knowledge transfer activities to link education to industry.

At the heart of the Listed Building is an ornate, circular reading room.  A key aspect of the project was to preserve the space and widen its range of potential uses for both the University and local community. Low-level original bookshelves were revitalised to act as display cases for the Glass School, and the original iron spiral staircases were replicated to provide access to the upper tiers.  The domed roof lantern was restored, and a contemporary AV system installed to offer a wide range of internal lighting configurations.

Along the south elevation of the new extension is a double-skin glass facade, offering a transparent face to the building whilst protecting against overheating. The facade buffers light, air, heat and noise throughout the seasons, constantly adjusting (through sensors and a Building Management System) minimising peak heat and cooling loads.  The ventilation system comprises of attenuated intake vents at the base and high-level extract vents at the parapet to promote passive air movement through the stack effect.

Windows within the internal glazed skin of the façade open and close automatically, depending on the weather, to regulate the internal climate. Striking multi-coloured glass brise-soleil, completed in conjunction with a local glass artist, is integrated between the two skins, both controlling glare and acting as a visual marker for the creative courses studied within the building.