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Y Ffwrnes cultural centre


We were commissioned by Carmarthenshire County Council to create their vision of a cultural hub for the town of Llanelli, Wales. The space had to bring together the heritage of the area while embracing a modern look for cultural events.

The Brief

Y Ffwrnes Cultural Centre needed to stand as a contemporary expression of the Llanelli’s history in tin-making and create a relevant setting for art and drama in the regenerated town centre. Overall, it had to establish a rapport and sense of ownership within the community.

We wanted to bring out the history of the area in the design of the centre while making sure we were also considering its different uses. The space needed to seat 500 people in its main theatre, also accommodating for rehearsal areas and a smaller studio.

Our Solution

Y Ffwnes translates to ‘the furnace’: a symbol of heat and energy. This, combined with the social drama created by Llanelli’s industrial past, created the inspiration for the new theatre we designed.

The building’s external zinc tiles create an expression of the outer casing of a furnace, while in the main stage, the seating is a mix of reds, yellows and oranges to create the fire at the centre’s heart. We reinforced this sense of heritage by bringing the old chapel and Sunday School into the project.

Through sensitive alterations and restoration, we created a new 100 seat studio theatre and community area in the space whilst maintaining it as a place of worship.

“I have worked with Lawray Architects on a number of projects through the authority’s design framework, most notably on the £7.5m re-furb of Carmarthen Leisure Centre, and £30m new award winning QE High School. I am also currently involved with Lawray Architects in developing proposals for a Cultural and Creative Centre, in Llanelli. I have found the organisation to be well managed and professional in all aspects of their work.”
– Ian Jones, Head of Leisure, Carmarthenshire County Council

Lawray has been a partner of the Corporation of the Church House for over 20 years and in that time has been heavily involved in several large refurbishment projects. The team’s knowledge and skills have proved invaluable in the areas of design, planning and project administration. When redeveloping a listed property, Lawray have ensured that they treat the architecture with sympathy whilst producing space that is effective for modern day requirements. Lawray continues to work closely with our in-house team on forthcoming projects and we would have no hesitation in recommending their work to others.

Mr Ian Bessant, Facilities Manager

The Corporation of Church House (Aug 2013)