on a day like today really is a jewel in Cardiff's crown. it was a little buzzing hive of people and the atmosphere was great.
Thankfully our first great leader Rhodri the Second Rate was largely ignored when he voiced his opinions.
thanks for sharing!! oh dear if we've all got to worry that our comments pass some kind of an 'interestometer' test then people aint gonna share a thing! Personally I'm quite happy to hear that MQ was buzzing yesterday, after a cold spring and the start of our summer was so cold and wet I'm sure MQ was giving thanks to the sun god!
Indeed, that's in part why I would like to see the BBC go to Porth Teigr. I personally dont like Mermaid Quay at all, it's all too busy (architecture wise) and too bland generic anytown (yucky bricks...). Maybe if the focus spread to other parts of the bay then the bar and restaurant areas could develop their own character. People often comment on the relationship between Pontcana bars and the BBC. I'm not sure how true that is, but if there is something in it then maybe we can hope for a different type of bar on porth teigr. I say that, it could just as easily end up being just more anytown.
I am so used to MQ now that I hardly notice the architecture. Four of my 'Top 10 Welsh Buildings' are located near to it, so from that gives it a few reflected glory points!!
Ash makes an excellent point about the best part of being in Mermaid Quay is that you can't see Mermaid Quay! Don't people in Llanelli say they'd rather be there looking at the Gower than on the Gower and looking at Llanelli??!
It is strange as to how the Mermaid Quay design was allowed. It's a real curiosity. Wasn't it built at the start of the apartment boom and yet there are no apartments. Or indeed offices. The brick they have used bears no relation to absolutely any of the surrounding architecture (apart from the social housing next to Mount Stuart school) and apart from a bridge and a half hearted 'prow' on the Terra Nova there is next to no architectural detail at all. I like the sculpture trail although it's based on a poem that seems to have no connection to Cardiff at all!
However it also seems to be commercially (if not architecturally) successful and I'm sure the thousands of people who flock there don't really care what it looks like. It also gives impetus to the Bay, a reason for most people to visit.
I wonder what we'll think of it in 20 years time? I get the feeling that despite it's obvious shortcomings it may be one of those projects/buildings that actually becomes beloved of the local populace itself and any moves to demolish it will be met with howls of protest.
in my opinion MQ only really lets itself down where the 'arse' end of it faces onto the main street (George Street?). Its not architecturally stimulating but I think its more of a product of its time and a design born out of necessity. Think of RDC and then realise MQ is a lot better.
I appreciate its shortcomings, but on a hot sunny say, it is the fulcrum of the bay and really is a great place to meet, have a meal and a drink. There is always something going on over there (well done CCC for that)
the walk across the barrage is amazing to have on your doorstep and each year it gets better and better with newer facilities added (skate park, olympic gym - again CCC big thumbup). in my view it is only going to get better when Roath Dock takes off proper.
just think, instead of all that we could have had more paracetamol
I agree it is the 'fulcrum' of the bay at the moment. It's the only place on the 'Bay' to meet for a choice of restaurants. It doesn't really have competition unless you want to stay in the City for that purpose.
Once the ISV plans come to fruition (if ever) then at least there will be a choice and, I would suggest, will be a more attractive place to 'meet for a meal, etc.'
Like everyone MQ architecturally is a let down, but I agree, it is buzzing on a nice day, and when I take people there who don't live in Cardiff, they overwhelmingly comment on the positives.
A few things could improve it though;
1-New George Street is a shocker. Yes it's the rear entrance, but you can combine the two. I'm sure there is scope for a couple of cheaper rent units in there, or at least some public art.
2-The service lane between MQ and the Oval Basin..it's gated off. Why? Open it up, provide a cut through, get some stalls or art work down there.
3-Update the naff architecture. Do something with the uver-naff false lighthouse for example
4-A bit more ambitious, but Coffee Mania unit shouldn't exist. It should be a small public square. This won't happen anytime soon, but it's a missed opportunity in my opinion.
5-Why the hell Bayside Brasserie don't have any seats outside is beyond me. they have a small downstairs area..plenty big enough for a mobile bar on sunny days..I do wonder about these businesses sometimes.
6-Links between MQ and the older part of the Bay..again, shocking..little signage, poor crossings. Doesn't help with vacant buildings at key junctions, but still, very poor.
One very easy and relatively cheap way to improve the appearance is to change the colour of the windows and doors on most of the units to dark grey. White looks cheap and tacky - if you look at the unit that Cote are in for example the darker colour at least gives the impression of being a bit classier.
Also get the businesses on the ground floor to have awnings. I'd favour most of it being rendered or clad as well - God I hate that beige brick.
The service yard area is awful and the half hearted attempt to disguise it with a few spindly, diseased trees is equally shocking. I agree with James about connectivity to the rest of the Bay. I suspect that this is by design - the developers want a captive audience.
The incentive for doing any of the above is pretty much zilch at the moment. It's almost fully let, very successful and as pointed out previously there is almost zero competition (RDC aside).
i'm pretty sure Coffee mania (the building) never used to be there and was in fact put there about 6 or 7 years ago. There used to be quite a funky sandwivch bar there (turquoise IIRC) and they weren't happy when the building was put in front of what was a very good view.
I'm a big fan of awnings, they do add a certain character to a street....if you look at the old photos of Cardiff the high street / st mary street certainly do look more interesting. I like your idea of darker window frames as well.
there is some 'fallow' land between James Street and Stuart Street, although the car park and estate don't help matters.
in an ideal world, it would be a good idea to clear these two areas (ignoring the social aspect of the estate) so that proper sight lines, roads and architecture could link the old and new. I genuinely think this part of Cardiff would become its most interesting if somehow CCC could actually reconcile the two parts of the same district. Mt stuart Square truly is a little gem with some wonderful buildings and a great victorian london feel to it. great for bars, restaurants, design studios, pr and marketing and so on.
Since we are doing two of my favourite things - dreaming up impossible building projects and having a pop at Mermaid Quay - I'll say that I wish the Mermaid Quay development area faced north as well as (the obviously important) south. I see active fronatages with bars/restaurants facing Merchant House and the Packet, maybe a bit of an open square. And the ground floor or Merchant Place also being a bar/restaurant. There's space for some outside tables. Maybe the bottom of Bute St could be pedestianised, opening up the space to connect it to the bay, with that little pedestrian lane leading through to the Mount Stuart Sq area. Of course my plan would involve knocking down that new building with the Sainsburys in it. It's never going to happen...
This may be old news but I noticed this morning that the restaurant operator Zizzi is about to open in the old Cafe Naz unit in Mermaid Quay.
I don't know what they're doing with all the scaffold over the bridge linking Salt to the upper tier on the other side - it's been like that for months.
They seem to like having scaffold up in the Bay during the summer months. The Pierhead building is covered up yet again to spoil everybody's Bay photos.
I'm not sure about this one. Harry Ramsden's is to become a Wetherspoon's pub. The Ramsden's offer is very dated and jaded. A Weatherspoon's should increase footfall but could bring increased drunken / loutish behaviour.
I'm surprised it's taken Wetherspoons this long to get a presence down in the Bay. That building makes sense for them - it's got a decent outside seating area and it's near to Mermaid Quay.
I'd always though the old post office building would have been a good fit for them (inevitably it would have been called the 'Old Post Office'). They do those type of conversions quite well.
There was an application for another pub in Bute Terrace near to the Eli Jenkins but that seems to have gone quiet.
I was also secretly hoping that Wetherspoons would go for the Old Post Office building. If they haven't taken that option (not that it was necessarily even on the table as an option I might add!) then I reckon that development of that building is almost certainly doomed for another decade. This really is rather depressing news.
I thought Harry Ramsdens might have had their chips when I noticed there was going to be a Top Gun restaurant / takeaway down the bay. If it's as good as the one in Whitchurch then HR won't be missed (it's going in Bute Crescent which I guess means next door to Sainsburys).
Didint mind Harry ramsdens, nearly always had decent food from their take away. Really not pleased with the prospect of a weatherspoons opeing in the bay and the type of people who like to drink there. The bay is the place you can get away from the stag and hen do's and people looking to get smashed, i really wonder how this might impact the restaurants as familys and older people might be put off by yobs being sick in the bay and carrying inflatable dildos etc. Maybe i'm being too over dramatic but i like the seperation between the more relaxed bay and more hedonistic city center.
I'm not sure I recognise that image of Wetherspoons. If I had my stag do at Wetherspoons I'd sack the best man.
Most Wetherspoons I've been in have either been populated by the after work crowd, couples having a few cheap drinks and a meal or gentlemen of a certain age who like to drink on their own whilst staring into the middle distance through rheumy eyes.
I think the Bay is already quite popular with people who 'like to party' but at the moment the balance is right between restaurants and bars etc so it never becomes too raucous.
Did anyone realise that the Natwest branch has shut down in Mermaid Quay?
I was told that there is a sign in the window stating that the branch closed on 24th July 2012.
They've gone from the grand old banking hall on Bute St to that shoebox new build to nothing in a matter of a decade.
I also thought the old Cardiff Bay station building would be good for a Wetherspoons being close to the Travelodge and they did reply to me saying their property guys were aware of it. Alas Harry Ramsdens will be bigger for them with a better view, and hopefully this'll make the likes of Terra Nova reduce it's prices and the Eli Jenkins make their interior less sticky!
Thats a good shout Neil. I think the problems with the Bay in relation to connectivity are such that even a building that short distance away from the waterfront would struggle to attract custom.
The march of the coffee shops continues. Blink Optometrists in Mermaid Quay is set to be replaced by... Costa Coffee!
Further to that what was Herb and Ellie's and latterly Truffles is to become "La cha cha" tapas and wine bar.
One unit available, the former Nat West. It seems to struggle to retain retail operators. Any thoughts on what's missing down the bay? A pharmacy / health store or is this location too pricey?
Bizarre innit. It'll be facing off against the one in the old unit across from its proposed new location.
La cha cha's name is right out of Naffsville Tennessee, but it looks really nice in there to be fair.
Not sure what it is with the Bay and names of place...that VIP Lounge is still going...it all reeks of 1998.
Woe is me. Mimosa restaurant in the Quay has been bought out by the people who own Bellini's, Signor Valentino and the Bayside Brasserie, several weeks ago apparently. The menu is already shorter and no longer in Welsh. That means the only decent independent in the Quay is now Woods, and the only places I'd regard as having a good balance between price, quality of food and service are now chains; Cote and Strada.
I loved Mimosa when it opened and it was my place of choice in the Bay for a long time. Ate recently at Bellini's (by someone else's desire) and the food was generic Italian overcooked slop. Signor V is notoriously poor quality and I gave up eating at BB some years back for similar reasons. Ate at Mimosa today and it's already not as good as it was, for choice or cooking.
Anyone know what the restaurant in the Millenium Centre is like in its present incarnation?
you also forgot they own entrecote. that is four restaurants in MQ.
Moksh is an excellent independent restaurant, albeit something other than 'Modern European'.
I've heard it's by far the better of the Indian restaurants in the Bay; apologies for forgetting it because I'm not keen on curries.
I would echo the sentiments about Mimosa. We took some Japanese visitors there back in November and not too sure when the change took place but the food was generally excellent - plenty of local produce including Monmouthshire wine - and the staff were brilliant too!
My father paid the bill this last time round and we didn't realise till later that they'd started adding a tip in automatically, so he handed the server a tenner on top. He's even more annoyed now he knows she couldn't even keep that and says "last time they're getting any money from me".
I cycled past the Oval Basin earlier and noticed that it's all being right royally dug up. It's a veritable hive of activity with plenty of workmen, lorries, heavy duty machines working at full pelt. No loiterers on this job.
Did we know that this was to happen? Do we know what they are doing (ie the type of new surface being laid ,because it is obviously being resurfaced)?
I really hope that it isn't road style black tarmac....
Was any of this in the planning docs?
There wouldn't be a planning app as it's probably Torchwood and thus top secret.
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