Wales Millennium Centre
Bute Place
Cardiff Bay
Cardiff CF10 5AL
Glamorgan, Wales
One of the most extraordinary buildings in Cardiff Bay is the egalitarian arts venue known as the Wales Millennium Centre. This modern building holds an astonishing variety of events appealing to a wide range of audiences.
Productions have included large scale musicals, opera and ballet, contemporary dance, drama, comedy, Eisteddfods, TV Shows, Royal Variety Galas, concerts and recitals.
The building is designed as a symbol of Wales and its historical relationship with culture and the arts. The Centre comprises one large theatre and two smaller halls, rehearsal rooms, function rooms, the Urdd City Sleepover youth hostel, shops, bars and restaurants.
It houses the national orchestra and opera, dance, theatre and literature companies; a total of eight arts organisations are in residence. The main theatre, the Donald Gordon Theatre, has 1,897 seats, the BBC Hoddinott Hall 350 and the Weston Studio Theatre 250.
The architect wished the building to express a feeling of ‘Welshness’ and be instantly recognisable. Its unique shape and the construction materials used certainly fulfil her criteria. The historic Welsh materials of slate, metal, wood and glass dominate the construction.
- Slate
The exterior of the building is clad in layers of coloured slate. Each quarry provided a different colour: the purple slate came from the Penrhyn Quarry, the blue from Cwt y Bugail Quarry, the green from the Nantlle Valley, the grey from Llechwedd quarry, and the black from the Corris Quarry.
Narrow windows built into the layers of slate give the impression of rock strata making the walls look like Welsh sea cliffs.
- Metal
The most striking feature of the Centre is its bronze coloured dome over the Donald Gordon Theatre and the foyer portico. The material is steel coated with copper oxide to withstand the salt-laden, maritime air of Cardiff Bay.
The surface has been deliberately rough finished, showing the rivet pattern so reminiscent of industrial steel plate manufacturing, familiar to residents of South Wales.
Inscribed on the front of the dome, above the main entrance, are two poetic lines (one in Welsh, one in English), composed by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis.
The Welsh version is Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen, which means "Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration". The English is In These Stones Horizons Sing. The idea of this monumental inscription comes from Roman classical architecture recalling the Romans’ influence in Wales and the introduction of the art of stone carving to the country. The lettering is cut into the metal roof sheltering the windows letting light into the upstairs bar areas. At night the light from the windows illuminates the lettering. It is a most unusual and spectacular feature.
- Wood
The native hardwoods of Wales have been used both inside and outside the building, lining the walls and forming beautiful curved balconies. Oak, ash, beech, sycamore, alder, birch, chestnut and cherry woods are used in the same proportions as they are found in the native forests.
As the exterior stone walls evoke images of the Welsh coastline, so the wood reminds us of the wild and magical Welsh forests. The form of trees is created by the interweaving curvature of the gallery edges, and by the random positioning of the supporting columns.
- Glass
The veins of glass in the external walls were used to incorporate the bands of slate. Although conventional plate glass was used it was treated in a very special way to form 5.9 inch (15-cm) thick glass blocks.
The sheets of glass were stacked together and fused in a kiln to form solid blocks. The concept of the arts centre is to make all aspects of The Arts accessible to all people. Visitors will find public art and sculpture on display in the foyer as well as free performances taking place during the day on the Glanfa Stage.
The foyer has three bars; The Penderyn Awen Foyer Bar on level 2; Horizons Foyer Bar on level 4; and Stones Foyer Bar on level 5. There is also a wine bar called ‘One’. The restaurant Gilby's @ the Bay is is also situated in the foyer, along with a coffee shop, The Crema, and an Ice Cream Parlour, Hufen.
The Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre is situated in the foyer so why not pop in, pick up some information, explore the fabulous architecture of the Wales Millennium Centre and indulge in a spot of refreshment. What could be better?
Guided Tours
Enquire about a 1 hour guided tour of this remarkable building.
What’s On
Go to the official Millennium Centre website below.
Contact & Further Information
Telephone  +44 (0) 2920 636464

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