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proposed refurbishment of Kings lane warehoue Sarah Wigglesworth Architects

Kings Lane Warehouse

Swansea Print Workshop is aiming to create a regional centre of excellence for fine art printmaking.

Having outgrown our present premises, we have been looking for new premises for several years which will give the Workshop a long term future.

The focus for this has been the 19thC warehouse on Kings Lane. This building has been the target of many arts groups over the past fifteen years - initially because it was owned by Swansea Council who were able to offer advantageous terms to prospective tenants. The building was sold to Coastal Housing who continued to support the development of a creative hub.

The feasibility study outlined below produced an exciting proposal for the development of the building for which we have only found partial potential funding. We continue to work with the Arts Council of Wales, the Welsh Assembly and Coastal Housing to find a way forward so that Swansea Print Workshop can be part of this new development.

The Feasibility Study

Swansea Print Workshop has conducted a Feasibility Study: to RIBA stage C to design a multi purpose community arts facility with a focus on printmaking and related activities as an integral part of a cultural cluster development in Swansea Housing Association’s Urban Village development along the High Street and Kings Lane, Swansea.

The Urban Village is being developed in phases with a series of new courtyard spaces linking shops, offices, food and drink outlets and 76 affordable apartments. Wales’ first “creative cluster” is designed for people involved in a wide range of creative industries such as advertising and marketing, architecture, computer and video games, crafts, design, fashion, film, video and animation, the music industries, publishing, software design, and television, radio and media, helping create a vibrant place to work, live and shop. See Swansea Creative Hub for more details

In October 2006, following a competitive bid process, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects were commissioned to undertake a Feasibility Study which would propose a design for the new home of Swansea Print Workshop and attendant community facilities on the King’s Lane site.

The envisioned building will house an ecological fine art printmaking facility, gallery and cafe, large drawing and lecture space, and a series of independent artist and residency studios to let.



The Architects
In October 2006, following a competitive bid process, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects were commissioned to undertake a Feasibility Study which would propose a design for the new home of Swansea Print Workshop on the Kings Lane site. Find more information on the architects from their website at

Architects Proposal
It has been expressed not only by the client but also planning officials and the Swansea Housing Association that retaining much of the building’s form is the preferred option. We strongly agree that retaining the building in some form or another is the appropriate way to move forward. Revitalised, it would give an iconic presence and unique address to the Swansea Print Workshop. It would also provide a facility that is well-matched to its building: an enduring and intricately layered craft housed in an enduring and intricately layered building.


Design concept
Despite our decision to retain the existing facades and salvage the internal structure, we do not regard the building as precious. Rather, we regard the idiosyncratic nature of its scarred shell as something to preserve and exploit. We liken this remaining shell to a palimpsest, a surface whose past layers and erasures are still largely visible. In turn, we view our intervention as simply another layer, another series of marks born of new demands, new logic, new functions.

Sustainable design
Our sustainable approach to the renovation of the print workshop dictated that we salvage as much of the original structure as possible. This begins with the retention of the stone shell, and carries on to the re-use of the internal structure, which will be carefully removed and made good. There is an opportunity to use these materials in unusual and expressive ways that signify the overall revitalization of the building, which itself is no longer serving its original purpose, but another instead.

Funded to date by the Arts Council of Wales and with support from Coastal Housing