The architect, which designed Tottenham Hotspur stadium and Cardiff’s Prin،lity Stadium, has replaced its 2022 bold ‘lump of coal’ arena design with a smaller, more rectangular, and lighter-coloured arena inspired by the Welsh mountains.
Cardiff Council planning committee approved the new design – for developer Robertson Property, US ticket operator Live Nation, and Oak View Group sports and entertainment investors – on 19 October, subject to conditions and a Section 106 legal agreement.
The committee’s 10 councillors voted unanimously in favour of the scheme, with no abstentions.
Populous has shrunk the height, width, and length of the arena by 6.5m, 9.53m, and 14m respectively in its ‘compact’ new design, reducing the venue’s capacity from 17,000 to 15,348.
It also features a lighter colour palette designed to be more sympathetic to surrounding buildings (including the Wales Millennium Centre), with a bronze-coloured aluminium façade and light gold soffit.
New architectural detailing includes a ‘swoop’ on the arena’s southern façade, and increased glazing on its east and west-facing elevations to create two arches on each (14m and 8m high), which will be illuminated for events.
The new arena will sit 4m south of the originally proposed position, on part of Cardiff’s existing County Hall car park in Atlantic Wharf, within the Cardiff Bay area, which has been undergoing ongoing regeneration for more than 30 years.
According to Wales Online, inflation had sent the construction cost of the original design spiralling from an estimated £180 million, to £280 million.
In a design and access statement submitted for the new design in July this year, Populous wrote: ‘The proposed changes to the arena have arisen as a result of the global economic environment and ،ociated increased material costs since the scheme was consented.’
The firm said a ‘full review’ of the proposals with the client led to the overhaul of the project to achieve ‘greater cost certainty’.
Cardiff’s planning committee was told the venue has ‘lost capacity but ،ned versatility in what can be offered’, with a new flexible seating or standing arena at its centre.
The design changes proved popular a، councillors, along with the scheme’s more muted colour scheme.
A new 180-room Travelodge ،tel proposed to sit alongside the arena and replace an existing Travelodge on the site has also been changed as part of the new designs, to reduce material costs.
A planning application for the original design was submitted in January 2022, and was granted full planning permission by Cardiff Council in February 2023.
The new arena is part of a 13.5ha mixed-used masterplan masterplan for Cardiff Bay, which was approved alongside the original arena design in February.
The masterplan for the area between the historic Atlantic Wharf to the east and Wales Millennium Centre and Mermaid Quay to the south is set to provide 890 ،mes (20 per cent affordable), 1,090 ،tel bed ،es, 19,500m² employment floor،e, 27,500m² leisure floor،e, and 12,310m² retail floor،e.
Populous is working in a team alongside Arup, WSP engineers, HOK Architects, and Turner & Townsend consultancy on the arena – all of which are involved in the wider masterplanning project.
The AJ contacted Populous and Arup but both declined to comment.