A £4.2 million refurbishment project of Penarth Pier Pavilion has been awarded the 2014 RICS Project of the Year Award.
Prior to the renovation scheme the building, which was built in 1929, was disused and in dire need of some attention.
We caught up with David Trotman, the Director of Penarth Pier Pavilion, to find out more about the development. David commented:
“The people of Penarth joined together to find a way to utilise the building as a community project. The community formed Penarth Arts & Crafts charity and raised funds, through the National Lottery and statutory authorities including the Welsh Government and local authorities, which enabled them to take on the refurbishment.
“The refurbishment started in 2012 and opened in September 2013. The multi-functional building now comprises a 70 seater cinema, meeting rooms, learning rooms, a café and a main exhibition and events hall.”
R & M Williams acted as the main contractors during the scheme and Mott Macdonald and Arrups have also been involved in the development. The construction process involved bringing the building up to a modern specification by installing new lighting, heating, plumbing and electrical systems. New floors were installed in the cinema rooms and new balcony areas have been constructed which overlook the main exhibition halls. Projection rooms have been constructed and fitted out as have new kitchen and food preparation areas. Original wood from the flooring has been recycled and utilised as flooring in the Pavilion. The whole space has been fitted out to a high specification.
The Pavilion comprises a ground, first and second floor as well as a large auditorium in the centre of the building. The round floor contains the reception and retail areas, the first floor contains the 70 seat cinema and the second floor holds the toilet facilities and projection rooms. At the seaward end of the building the café spans both the ground and first floor, on the upper floor the observatory can be found, as can toilets, accommodation and meeting rooms.
From September last year the Pavilion has become a community hub; opening seven days a week and being utilised by local people and visitors to the area in a wide spectrum of ways. Those visiting the centre have plenty of activities to choose from including watching a film in the 70 seater cinema, enjoying some coffee and cake in the two storey café facilities as well as exploring the latest art exhibition in the main exhibition hall.
The main exhibition hall has been used for adult and children’s art exhibitions, as well as regularly hosting dance and music events. The centre is sustainable from a funding perspective as it is able to raise funds through cinema seat sales, café sales, art work sales from the exhibitions, donations and memberships schemes. The exhibition space has been booked up until 2016 by leading Welsh artists and will also host community led art exhibitions.
The space has also taken on another use since opening; venue hire. Many local people have used the Pavilion to get married in, for wakes and other celebrations. The Penarth Pier Pavilion team already have six wedding booking for 2015.
Penarth Arts & Crafts also deliver workshops to children with special needs and disabilities on a weekly basis. Workshops include arts and crafts, music, drama, and film making classes. David also told us more about the Pavilion’s other community uses:
“The space has also become a meeting place for military veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We don’t deliver therapy here but the venue is a great place to sit and relax whilst talking to others. The pavilion has an observatory on the top floor which overlooks the Bristol Channel offering fantastic views over the pier, as well as Weston-super-Mare and Minehead. It is in this room that military veterans gather.”
The work Penarth Arts & Crafts are doing with veterans in the local community has been recognised by The Dambuster Squadron, known as RAF 617 Squadron, who have awarded Penarth Pier Pavilion with a beautiful print as well as a Tornado jet bomber fly pass in recognition of the work they are doing at the pavilion with veterans.
“We have established a heartfelt sense of community belonging to the Pavilion by people from Penarth and South Wales. However we also get visitors from overseas who come here because their parents or grandparents met there.”
With regards to winning a RICS Welsh Community Award as well as the 2014 RICS Project of the Year Award David is overjoyed. He added:
“Winning the community award put us through to the national final awards and to our amazement we won the best project of the year. I think we may have won it because of the amount of the community work we have created; we are important to so many people ranging from four to 100 years old, from so many backgrounds.
“Winning this award has given myself and the staff a wonderful sense of pride and achievement. As well as the 100 volunteers who enable us to keep the place functional we also employ 10 staff in the café and 10 staff in the rest of the Pavilion.
“The project has also had a positive knock on effect in the local economy due to the cleaning company, security company and food suppliers we are using.”
The Pavilion’s positive effect on the local economy can be seen through the plethora of new local businesses opening; due to the increased footfall to Penarth business owners, old and new, have seen business improve.
Penarth Arts & Crafts were expecting about 50,000 visitors to visit the centre but they have been pleasantly surprised by receiving 120,000 visitors. It has become a tourist hub in South Wales.
Penarth Pier Pavilion have also won The National Trusts Best Place to Visit in Wales Award, The National Pier Society’s Pier of the Year Award and the Considerate Contractors Gold Award for The Royal Institute of Contractors.