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sbarc | spark, Cardiff University

The world’s first social science research park

Bringing together commercial tenants with university academics, Cardiff University’s new ‘home of innovation’ offers social collaboration, new ways of working, and space to showcase research results.

What enables sbarc | spark to be this new hub for interdisciplinary knowledge sharing are new workspaces, recreational spaces, laboratories, exhibition spaces and roof terraces.

The flow of people is key to achieving this, and our design sought to properly encourage social interaction. It’s why we created the ‘oculus’ – a sculptural staircase that forms the heart of the building.

Rising through the building, the staircase forms a ‘spiral of collaboration’ with breakout zones on the landings of each level creating a lively activity zone in the centre of each floorplate.

We wanted to encourage research and industry partnerships between users of the building, which is why the ground floor includes an event space – ‘The Play Box’ – which is fully accessible to visitors. There is also a café with large sharing tables, drawing together commercial tenants and academic researchers alongside the public and the wider university faculty.

Project details

Project name: sbarc | spark, Cardiff University

Location: Cardiff, Wales

Service: Digital design

Value: £20M – £50M

Scope: Architecture, Interior design

Clients: Cardiff University

Status: Live

Completion date: 2022

Structural & Civil Engineer: CH2M

MEP Engineer: Arup

Project Manager: Gleeds

Planning consultant: DPP

Cost consultant: F&G

Fire Engineer: Arup

Acoustic Engineer: Arup

People tracking: Buro Happold

Photography: Will Scott


RIBA Wales Awards 2024

If you want to know more about our education and research work, contact Julia Roberts

If you want to know more about our interior design work, contact Morag Morrison