Assembly by Rogers
The spatially complex interior encourages views and daylight, but not direct access to the debating chamber, and allows for certain areas to remain visible yet private. Around the chamber's perimeter are various committee rooms, administration rooms, and offices for the Senedd's 60 elected members.
Greening the Assembly
The building challenges expectations about designing for public institutions. While cost was certainly a guiding concern, RRP did not let this stop them from making the building a showcase for accessibility or sustainability. It does not look stereotypically "green," and its theatrical, lightweight roof that twists surprisingly into the interior space makes it an automatic landmark.
It is important to note that the building does more than just look good; it also performs well. The mushroom top of the debating chamber moves up and down, pumping in fresh air for ventilation, and the thermal mass of the slate plinth regulates interior temperatures.
Water is collected on the roofs to further regulate the temperature and to provide for toilets and window cleaning. The building is designed for a minimum 100-year life span, a challenge given the stormy harbor location.
Construction used more than 1100 tons (1000 metric tons) of Welsh slate for the floors and exterior walls. Four local artists were commissioned to provide public art. Near the main entry, local sculptor Richard Harris designed "The Meeting Place," an outdoor installation of 44 machine-cut slate slabs, each weighing 3.3 tons (3 metric tons).
"I wanted to create a space that was to the side of the building, that related closely to the building but was very inviting for people to use — somewhere quieter that people could sit and spend some time," Harris says of the work.
In June 2006, the National Assembly for Wales was awarded a prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects Design Award, which places it on the long list for the coveted Stirling Prize, the "Oscar" of architecture.
Terri Whitehead is a writer and designer based in London.
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