“My goal is to revive a building’s architecture and history to create a unique space that can benefit a community’s landscape, tourism, economy and social activity”

 

Words from Signature Living Chairman, Lawrence Kenwright

 

When I first visited the Exchange in 2016, this once prosperous building was a shadow of its former self.

Having once reigned as the hub of Cardiff’s prosperous coal industry, the Exchange was severely damaged and upon my initial visit, we were unable to enter the building due to safety concerns.I was advised that the restoration of the Exchange would cost £42 million and upon completion, it would be valued at £35 million, an initial loss of £7. But restoring the Exchange wasn’t about the money, it was about bringing an iconic building back to life.


People said we were going to knock down the rear of the building but in fact we have knocked down just 5ft out of 180,000 square foot. It is important to us that the building keeps its original DNA, albeit with a new purpose.

We were only granted planning permission two months before we first opened our doors which ensured the pressure was high. With a team of highly skilled individuals, we unearthed 1,300 tonnes of debris which had built up over the course of many years and discovered some amazing original architecture. Throughout the whole process, one of my biggest goals was to keep the building’s true DNA and footprint intact albeit with a different use.

With listed buildings such as the Exchange, it is essential to preserve the structure as it was intended when first erected and Signature Living are the only ones capable.

The rear of the building was particularly neglected with excess water damage ensuring the wooden joints of the building were disintegrated and disengaged from the main structure.

We have further taken extra care to ensure that none of the original walls are pulled down and despite initial concerns & reports, the back wall is still completely intact.

With a listed building, such as The Coal Exchange, it is essential to preserve the structure as was intended when first erected, whilst ensuring it is self-sustaining – with the latter, arguably, being a primary aim for the building.

Phase one of The Exchange Hotel opened its doors in April 2017 with 30 rooms, by June there were 60 rooms and by September 2017 there will be 90 completed rooms. There is still a lot of work to be done with further dereliction hiding behind the scenes but I am confident and hopeful The Exchange Hotel will be fully operation by January 2018.

We have given the building a new lease of life which celebrates its past all whilst creating a new future.