Sunday, June 03, 2007

Unmistakably Welsh

(Note: I have deliberately uploaded smaller image views as I am conscious of blog loading times for those web connection doesn't run at the speed of Pooh through a Goose. I'm also conscious that the blogger image sizing & wraparound code is pants so sorry for the quirky layout. As ever, click on a photo for a more detailed image).

David and I went on a backstage tour of the Cardiff Millennium Centre, home to Welsh National Opera and a bucket load of other theatre companies. The theatre is less than three years old. The signature aspect of the design is the huge bilingual calligraphy writing on the angled facade. The english bit says "In these stones horizons sing" and the Welsh bit says "Creu Gwir fel Gwydr o Ffwrnais Awen" and is a different phrase to the English one. I hoped that it translated to "My Hovercraft is full of Eels", but disappointingly, it actually means "Creating truth like glass from inspiration's furnace".

The guidebooks make a feature of the curved bulk of the roof but don't mention the view from the rear which is considerably less inspiring, consisting of utilitarian windows with air ducts above. This is very much the business end of the stage house with dressing rooms and offices (& presumably air handling plant above judging from the air ducts).The main cladding of the central building is a burnished steel but the flanking wings (known as the anchorage and the waterside to use nautical metaphors) are clad with slate and glass in a stratified manner.Internally, various (sustainable) hardwoods are used for the balcony & stairwell facias, whilst the supporting columns are a very dark material in a diamond pattern that is very tactile. The columns are vaying heights and are capped with a functional light fitting described as industrial.The calligraphy is also echoed internally and subtle tints of glass give a banding effect. Here is a billion monkeys self portrait of myself reflected in the bar mirror at the lowest of the three levels.
Sadly, this area is not open to the public outside of performances which is a real pain if toilets are closed as the two ends are not otherwise linked.

(We'd been in the building a couple of days previously and snapped this appearance of a Tardis & a Dalek!)

Photography wasn't allowed backstage or in the auditoria, so I had to make do with a snap of the advert banner for the tours. The main auditorium has a variable acoustic by the lowering of quilted sound absorbing panels to the sides. When raised, thousands of different sized mylar panels reflect sound in multiple directions (each one hand fitted to a complex plan from the acoustic consultants).
Here are a smattering of other images:

Checking up a few facts afterwards, I found out the tour that would have been the ideal one for me- the Access all areas Techie tour.

(Image from the Cardiff Millennium Centre website).

Why is the building unmistakably Welsh? Because the design brief said so.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Deli, you have given me a tour of the building which was [just] in place before I left Cardiff but which, to my shame, I never got around to visiting! There is something very Welsh in that design, you know - the idea of "stones" must be it. [I lived a 5-minute walk from there.] I MUST NOT get nostalgic!

Delicolor said...

Welshcakes, Sentimentality for somewhere is best left to the imagination, the reality is always a little disappointing revisiting by what has changed and what hasn't.

If you lived 5 minutes from there you must have had one of those luxury bayside apartments? Or has a lot of ordinary housing stock been sacrificed for the Docks->Bay conversion?

Liz said...

Do you know I have never been there! Cardiff and Swansea could be a million miles apart.

Delicolor said...

Liz, so could Newcastle & Sunderland!

When I was younger, I was amazed how many people lived in Greater London but had never done the sights in town.