Design & Build

It was important for 'St David's 2' that the building design reflected Cardiff's unique arcade shopping experience whilst drawing on inspiration from European styling and cutting edge architecture. Inspiration for its design is a reflection of the pride of the City's and builds upon the hope for Cardiff as an international destination whilst fitting effortlessly into the mature and well loved existing fabric of the city centre.

The search for vibrancy and excitement in shopping and for arcades which compete on an international scale took our principal architects ‘Benoy’ further afield to some of the greatest and most successful shopping environments in the world. Their vision for 'St David's 2' aimed to deliver the same level of excitement and thrill to visitors, and so Grand Arcade was born.

Grand Arcade, the centre piece for St David’s creates an atmosphere that is both uplifting and inspiring - creating an almost contemporary cathedral like quality with the gentle curve of the arcade leading the eye towards the John Lewis anchor store at the southern end of the arcade.


Striking a balance between the engineering quality of the arcade and a lighter, more delicate touch for the finishes is important as we aimed to echo the discreet sense of scale and texture, unique to Cardiff and South Wales. Natural stone, light coloured timbers, reflected light and other natural materials will be employed to create a true sense of Welsh space. Interesting and exciting pieces of art will all help to create an identity for St David’s giving it a truly Welsh sense of place.

Build & Construction

Bovis Lend Lease was appointed as main build contractor in May 2006 and has played an integral role in the delivery of St David’s, Cardiff. Bovis Lend Lease is one of the UK's leading construction and project management companies, with significant retail project experience, including Bluewater in Kent, Cribbs Causeway in Bristol and Chapelfield in Norwich.

The building work was programmed over a three year period and was completed in autumn 2009 with the centre opening to the public during a grand launch on 22 October. The project provided approximately 1000 construction jobs during this time.

Construction Timeline:


  • Genesis of idea & planning consent: 2000 to 2005
  • Enabling Works: April 2006 to December 2006
  • Temporary Library: May 2006 to September 2006
  • Demolition Works: Autumn 2006 to Spring 2007
  • St David’s centre modernisation: January 2007 to September 2007
  • Cardiff Central Library (construction): December 2006 to December 2008
  • Public realm & public art: January 2007 to October 2009
  • St David’s / Dewi Sant (new build): January 2007 to October 2009
  • Hayes Apartments (residential): November 2007 to June 2010
  • Barrack Lane (affordable housing): October 2009 to Spring 2010
  • Bridge Street Square: July 2009 to December 2009 

Fun Facts about St David's

  • The site that St David’s sits on is the same footprint area as the Millennium Stadium.
  • As much concrete was used in its construction as the Wales Millennium Centre. A total of 91,000m³.
  • 25,000 tonnes of steel were required – the same weight as 208 fully grown Blue Whales
  • The Grand Arcade, which runs the length of the shopping centre from Town Wall South mall (which links it to the existing shopping centre building) to John Lewis in the south is 240 metres long – long enough to fit a line of 24 double-decker buses
  • Grand Arcade is big enough to house the Sphinx at its highest point of 19 metres
  • A total of 1,418 panes of glass were used in Grand Arcade
  • Around 7,500 sq m of limestone were in the Grand Arcade. It took more than a year of quarrying different seams to get the right variety of colour and veining as well as the quantity of stone
  • No steel has been used to build the link bridges into the new building. Instead, it has been formed using structural glass

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