Rio Architects

A museum like no other


A Maritime Museum




Architecture, Digital Construction, Visualisation

This ambitious project aimed to create a unique and world-first maritime museum and experience centre within a managed environment.

The project aims to enclose a decommissioned Type 23 frigate within an arched structure over a dry dock, creating 8,480m2 of premium museum space and 12,520m2 of high-quality commercial office space, convention and event areas, gift shops, digital kiosks, quayside dining, and refreshment options.

The idea for the unique multi-purpose development was conceived to provide visitors with the opportunity to access the subterranean world of submarines, shipwrecks, oceanic developments, and sustainable seas while providing a superb educational experience and an exclusive corporate hospitality venue.

The concept for this distinctive multi-purpose development aims to offer visitors access to the fascinating world beneath the surface, including submarines, shipwrecks, oceanic advancements, and sustainable practices. Alongside providing an exceptional educational experience, it also serves as an exclusive corporate hospitality venue.

The vessel will be supported above the listed dry dock, providing a rare opportunity to see the underside of the frigate from a ‘fish-eye view’. The ship will be accessible via a series of connected decks aligned with the levels of the vessel.

The concept design emerged from the form of the aquatic and colloquially named ‘Mermaids Purse’, with the stretched concave glass-fronted structure appearing as an imposing wave gently rising from the old dock overlooking Cardiff Bay. The building will serve as a dramatic stage to display the maritime assets.

Early discussions to enable a project of this magnitude to progress are ongoing.

Relocating and redesigning a cultural hotspot