Artists’ Studios


The studio won a competition run by The Royal Institute of British Architects to design a complex of eighteen artists’ studios for the University of Aberystwyth in Wales. The budget was extremely low, but the client’s aspiration was to show that a low-cost project could still be special. To protect the precious woodland site, the studio chose not to build a single large building but instead to create a community of nine small buildings, placed between the trees and connected by a path. As the studios needed to feel special without overshadowing the creative activity within, the decision was taken to keep the form and interior of each building simple and to concentrate instead on making their skin characterful. The team developed the idea of wrapping each building in thin stainless steel sheet, just one tenth of a millimetre thick. At this thickness the sheet was not only one tenth of the price of conventional steel cladding but could also be made to buckle and deform and turn into something mesmerizing to look at. In the woodland it was as if a mirror had been crinkled, taking on the colours of leaves and sky. By creating a special crinkling machine and then coating the back of the crinkled steel with rigid insulation foam, the studio was able to make a cladding system that was lightweight, inexpensive and durable, but also soulful.


Aberystwyth Arts Centre,
Aberystwyth University


Aberystwyth, UK







Project Leader

Ole Smith

Studio team

Peter Ayres, Tom Chapman-Andrews, Mark Burrows, Lucia Fraser, Craig Henderson, Pikyan Luk, Julian Saul, Craig Stephenson


Adrian Tester, A.L.L Hughes & Sons, AWS Turner Fain, B3 Saftey, David Langdon, Edwards & Owen, EOM Electrical Contractors, Gareth Pugh Steel Framed Buildings, Lowfields Timber Frames, Max Fordham Consulting Engineers, NaturaLight Systems, Packman Lucas, Renotherm