Gwalia Housing Society
Swansea Foyer, Swansea

Scheme Summary
Swansea Foyer resulted from the redevelopment of the former Swansea Working Men's Club. It provides training and accommodation for up to 33 homeless and young unemployed people. The scheme was built as a result of a limited competition run by Gwalia.

Scheme details

A design brief was devised that would redevelop the site of the Working Men's Club, incorporating its listed 19th century facade, to provide an energy efficient, environmentally friendly building. PCKO Architects won the competition and were commissioned for the design of the building.

The resulting building meets the environmental goals and creates a building that is free from any hint of institutional atmosphere. This has largely been achieved through a design that converts the internal circulation space into a covered street bordered by a terrace of houses; each houses 4 - 5 residents. The street feature not only acts as an urban style community space, but allows for natural light and passive solar gain. The scheme also provides offices, meeting rooms and training facilities.

The overall design of the building is visually interesting and of a high quality. The listed facade has also been fully restored.

Environmental Features
A highly insulated timber framed building, with a U value of 0.20 was constructed behind the listed facade. All windows are timber-framed with argon filled low emissivity double-glazing.

The single glazed roof to the street acts as a passive solar collector, a buffer to reduce heat loss and creates an attractive naturally lit and ventilated communal space.

A proportion of the hot water requirements for the building are provided by solar panels. Around 60% of domestic hot water requirements can be met in this way. Photovoltaic panels provide solar electricity to drive the water pumps from the solar collectors. They also power the electrical and mechanical back up systems for the building and run the motors that work the passive ventilation system.

Water conservation issues were addressed by fitting water saving devices to taps and showers, along with 6 litre low flush WCs.

Low energy lighting to all parts of the building is controlled through a card access system. This ensures lights are automatically switched off when not in use.

Pre-construction dynamic thermal modelling and environmental simulation of the foyer street was carried out by the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff to ensure the success of the building. The natural ventilation system is thermostatically controlled providing fresh air throughout the building and acts as smoke ventilation to the central street.

Following tendering and negotiation a contract sum of 1.381m was agreed. Retention and repairs to the existing facade represented 300,000 of the overall cost.The cost per resident/unit including communal facilities is 41,848.

The scheme was funded by a number of sources. Tai Cymru (Housing for Wales) gave a grant of almost 650,000, with the remainder being provided by the City and Council of Swansea, the Tudor Trust, Welsh Development Agency, CADW, SWALEC and other charitable donations.

Developer's Comments
Gwalia is pleased with the success of the development in terms of architectural quality, environmental performance and the quality of life offered to residents. The environmental design techniques used have helped to create a home that offers residents the best of the contemporary, along with the stability derived from the historic traditions of the building.

Contact: Phil Roberts, Director, The Gwalia Housing Society Limited, Ty Gwalia,
10-13 The Kingsway, Swansea SA1 5JN
Tel: 01792 460609