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Doctor Who lands in Cardiff

When BBC Worldwide were looking for a new long-term home for the Doctor Who Experience, it was an obvious choice to bring the famous multi-sensory exhibition to a purpose-built residence in the city of Cardiff—right next to the Roath Lock Studios, the BBC’s largest drama production outside of London, and the place where the show would soon be filmed. 

The Roath Lock Studios form part of the massive redevelopment of a derelict inner harbour area of Cardiff Bay. Initiated by the Welsh Assembly and Igloo, from the redevelopment would arise Porth Teigr, a modern and vibrant waterfront envisioned as the future centre point for creative industries in Wales. 

Lancashire-based company, Collinson, were chosen to construct the new home of the Doctor Who Experience, in no small part because their tension membrane buildings were the perfect solution to a need for versatile space. Their ability to offer clear spans of up to 100m-by-virtually-any-length would give the internal space for BBC Worldwide to create a memorable exhibition, taking visitors on an exciting journey through special effects, sets, and memorabilia from the series which would include a recreation of the modern TARDIS.

“Collinson tailored a great solution to meet our requirements,” said a representative of Cardiff Council.

“When the build commenced they kept us fully informed at regular meetings, and worked amiably with other contractors appointed by us to ensure the project was completed to meet BBC Worldwide’s deadline. 

“This attraction is expected to bring millions of pounds into the city’s economy, and the benefits to Cardiff will be immense in the terms of tourism. We wish Cardiff and the Doctor Who Experience every success.”

Working in conjunction with Cardiff City Council and their chosen architects, Holder Mathias, Collinson designed and constructed the 3000m2 building, housing 4181m2 of internal space. In addition to the main exhibition hall, this incorporates a first floor mezzanine and two-storey accommodation comprising a reception area, café, classroom, kitchen, washrooms and offices.

The striking external appearance of the building is down to the unique nature of the design; differing ridge heights and the curved eaves of the steel frame are covered by a heavy duty architectural membrane to produce smooth flowing lines. 

Unlike many clients who select a white membrane cover to allow natural light to permeate the building, a special black-out membrane was chosen to ensure total darkness inside the facility, in order to maximise the impact of special effects and lighting.

The building also features an impressive glazed curtain wall on the front façade, lending a futuristic feel that Doctor Who fans will undoubtedly approve of. 

Dan Collinson, Managing Director of Collinson, said, “This has been a great project. Working with Cardiff City Council and BBC Worldwide on the Doctor Who project and being part of creating something imaginative and extraordinary is always exciting for us. 

“We’re confident the finished result will not only impress visitors to the exhibition, but we hope it will inspire people think creatively when it comes to the materials and design that can be utilised in constructing public buildings such as this.”

Earthlings will have a chance to visit the Experience, with an opportunity to board the TARDIS, and to meet the Doctor, Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors and many more, from the 20th July 2012.

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