This post was updated on .
This post was updated on .
The University Arts Centre Project Page:
Demolition of old Students Union and Theatre Gwynedd
Plans for the PONTIO project are currently being showcased at a Visitor Centre on Bangor High Street on Fridays and Saturdays until June 19. The centre is open to all members of the public who wish to learn more about PONTIO and have any questions about the development.
Planning Application Reference: C10A/0268/11/LL
Planning Site Link:
The new build seems to have echos of the old Theatr Gwynedd - a big square blocky monolith that says a lot about the architect and their vision but not a lot about the intrinsic character of Bangor, its setting, or the place this development will take in Bangor's townscapethe in the longer term.
Will it be a much loved new quarter or will it bide it's time until the next round of demolition? No one knows, but history would suggest that it will have a honeymoon period when it is new, clean and when everything works, but later when it will (rapidly) become highly dated in style, it will then have to spend many years being 'hated' as a 'blot', rather like its predecessor, and we know what happened to that. I could say the same about the old Deniol Centre, now demolished, which has been recently replaced with a new development and multi-storey car park that again bears some resemblance in style to the old. (We seem to be going through a retro 1960's period in architecture at present, having quietly set aside all the terrible things we said about concrete and Le Corbusier over the last 30 years).
This returns me to a long standing debate about urban design and the need for a more co-ordinated approach in Bangor, if we are to avoid each major new development simply trying to shout louder than it's exisiting neighbours, as if the issue of appearance was about style, when it should be more about townscape.
If anything is to change then people need to be pro-active. We need a vision for Bangor that also then expresses as design briefs for individual development sites. Otherwise those developing will just assume that it's a free-for-all anything-goes sort of place, that's rather like many other places have gone, where matters of local distinctiveness combined with creating a pleasent human-scale environment have long since dropped off the agenda.
Given the minute audience for this forum (based on numbers of posts and numbers of views) do we suffer in Bangor simply from a relative lack of interest in our townscape? How do we compare, for example, to interest in townscapes in Oxford or St Andrews, York or St David's?
Not strictly a reply, but a supplement. When I argued for a Pedestrian bridge to enable students and public to cross Deiniol Road to the new Pontio development, without holding up traffic or being held up themselves at the roadside, contemplating the traffic: I did not manage to attach the illustrative picture (of a rather grand example). It appeared as an "announcement". You may imagine a more modest version leading to the architects' model--protected from the elements, and itself an elegant enhancement, comparable to the one (I hope) now pictured here. Expensive? What is money being spent on?
This post was updated on .
Well its 2012, this is where the project's at...
Groundwork has been completed.
Tenders from building contractors are in and are being reviewed
Additional applications of funding are in submission
Construction is anticipated to start in April 2012
Completion of project is now expected in Feb. 2014.
Site Dec 2011 (Click for full image)
Live webcams of the site...
The argument for a PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE, to cross the "achitecturally eliminated" Deinio Road, is stronger than ever. As I may not succeed inATTACHIN a page with photos, I'll copy (some of) the text here.
The folly and fraudulence of architect’s display picture!
It is normal for architects to make their submitted project as attractive as possible, but can one really legitimately leave the pig out of the poke? This scene blends the 1900 College on the Hill, and the 1923 Memorial Arch with the sensational projected Pontio Lecture-cum-Arts theatre. All these happy people, toddlers, (with a push-chair, and a bicycle in the scene), are strolling gaily—as they should be!—mostly towards the fabulous building. But…what has happened to the main road that runs past, and its traffic, of buses, taxis, trucks, private cars, even agricultural vehicles? Has it been brushed into the memory hole, to make the project look possible?
One could publish this deceitful picture (which is proudly displayed on the barricade enclosing current works), shame the architects and perhaps pursue them for gross deception.
Let’s be more positive. Publicising the Pontio building project, the official spokesman announced:
“We are seeking to build bridges – to bring together the University with the wider community, using arts, sciences and exciting new combinations of them both. The project is ambitious and iconic, and we believe it will have a transformative effect on all the people it touches. “This is the project that will put Bangor on the map and will help to regenerate the city’s urban heart. It will provide a Centre of such remarkable innovation and artistic excellence that it is sure to draw the attention of people from near and far, as well as providing new impetus to the growth of the North Wales economy.”
The region of North Wales boasts the historic bridges of Telford, (the 1826 Suspension Bridge,) and Stephenson (the two-railway-track Tubular Britannia Bridge, 1850, of which the piers support the modern arched road/rail bridge), across the Menai Straits, spanning some 200m. They could hardly have foreseen how much traffic to Anglesey and Ireland would be crossing the Straits in 2000. Can the academics and architects, and local authorities, who are piling their praise and credit on the Pontio scheme, anticipate the (desired) result of citizens and students wishing to cross this Deiniol Road, to the extent of providing a 20m pedestrian bridge for them?
It is not a minor addition to costs which is involved, but the opportunity to enhance the whole project with a landmark construction which will itself be a prominent and distinctive feature. An “intrusion” on the present city scape, so it should be a bold one. Let it be worthy of our times! Let it be designed on the basis of an outstanding achievement which more than one university can glory in!
The topography of the site dictates a considerable rise, from City side to Pontio building. The ascent, on this side, could be achieved with a sensationally designed tower embraced by a double helix of two spiral stairs enclosing a lift-shaft for those needing (as is provided in railway stations, supermarkets etc. On the Pontio side, access to the tubular enclose walkway can be at an already suitable level.
The Double Helix pedestrian bridge, when its merits are recognised, can be designed with modern materials, most of them pre-fabricated, and assembled on site. One spiral stair, enclosed for safety and protection from the elements, rising clockwise for upward moving pedestrians, the other spiralling anti-clockwise for descent. Lift-motors would be housed under the conical roof, the exterior being painted or decorated according to the planners’ choice, perhaps evocative of the historic windmills still found on Anglesey.
Engineers and architects will be able to deploy their talent. Lay people less familiar with the brilliance of modern pedestrian bridges may form their opinions on the many photographs to be found on the internet. A small selection is offered as an annex to this sheet.
Should that not be a noble and necessary element in Pontio?
Construction work on a new £40m arts and innovation centre will begin in early summer, says Bangor University. (BBC)
In view of this announcement, it may be appropriate to attach a few of many possible pictures to reinforce the argument about a covered footbridge, linking Pontio with the City of Bangor. Some notion of the way the bridge can be a historic architectural feature in itself, besides solving the traffic v. pedestrian clash, may be gained.
cf, From: (Architectural Competition) Concours d'Architecture, AMSTERDAM Iconic Pedestrian Bridge
“The bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle. It is designed for pedestrians and cyclists, rather than vehicular traffic. Footbridges complement the landscape and can be used decoratively to visually link two distinct areas or to signal a transaction. Footbridges can be both functional and beautiful works of art and sculpture in there own right as seen in some of the most visited countries around world....”
It is to be hoped that this vision is embraced, instead of becoming a cause for regret from 2013 on.
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Spiral illustrations for Pontio.docx (2M) Download Attachment
Bangor University, Wales : Pontio Building
Education Development Wales, UK – design by Grimshaw, Architects
20 Jan 2011
Bangor University Pontio
Construction begins at Bangor University’s Pontio
Construction has commenced on the Grimshaw-designed Arts and Innovation Centre at Bangor University.
Grimshaw was appointed to the scheme – also known as the Pontio project – in September 2009, together with other members of a strong design team including Atkins (engineering, environmental, fire), Arup (Theatre and Acoustics) and Gillespies (Landscape). The Pontio project received planning permission in July 2010, and has recently been awarded £27.5m from the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government. The new centre is due to open in Spring 2013.
Bangor University Pontio Pontio Bangor University
images from Grimshaw
The design responds to the site’s complex location, straddling, as it does, an area between the lower and elevated parts of Bangor city centre, and sitting well within its environment. The building itself will house a 450-plus seat theatre, a ’white-box’, a rehearsal studio, teaching rooms, a cinema and an outdoor amphitheatre. Exciting social areas for the centre include new Student Union facilities as well as bars, cafes and restaurants, which will be integrated with external areas as an extension to the adjacent College Park. Pontio’s public performance spaces will also become a major focus for Welsh culture, designed to provide pioneering and inspirational platforms to showcase local and international music, dance and theatre, as well as engaging new talent.
Pontio will include an ‘Innovation Hub’ that will support collaborative design approaches between the university and local businesses. Throughout the centre, new teaching and social learning spaces will provide high quality modern educational environments that will benefit students, promote community engagement and support business. High-tech showcasing facilities will enable work to be displayed using the latest in digital technology.
As well as providing state-of-the-art amenities for the University, the project offers a unique opportunity to contribute to a wider urban strategy; one of the centre’s key aims is to strengthen the relationship between the city and the university by unifying the two main campus areas of upper and lower Bangor. The project will generate hundreds of jobs in North Wales and will further benefit the region by developing new businesses as well as creating opportunities for existing companies.
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