Project / Retrofit & Reuse

Four Elms Centre

Proving NoFit State with a fit-for-purpose home

Four Elms was a derelict Grade II listed 19th Century building. It was purchased by NoFit State Circus to be converted into their headquarters and training facilities. The end product met and exceeded the client’s expectations, and has led to multiple collaborations since on other circus projects in the UK and overseas.

  • Location Cardiff
  • Client NoFit State Circus
  • Completion 2015
  • Value £1m
Main Frame Complete 1

Two birds. One stone.

We inserted steel frames in the main hall. This achieved two key requirements in a single step: the removal of the eaves-level tie bars created the headroom needed for circus training; it also provided a rig from which the performers could operate without concerns over the integrity of the existing structure or damaging the listed fabric.

The construction sequence developed in the design avoided unnecessary temporary works by assembling the whole of the new frame around the existing tie bars before they were cut.

A static circus

The ladder frames added to the main double columns, like the main masts of their tent, allow performers to train as if they were on tour.

In building terms, the insertion of the steel frame is exemplary. It’s clearly visually separate from the existing historic fabric – it does not seek to compete visually with it. And it’s essentially a reversible intervention – if the tie bars were re-instated, the frame could be removed.

Nik Palmer 1
John Warburton 5

A word from the client

It’s impossible to underestimate how important this permanent home is to the company. Four Elms will enable NoFit State to expand, develop and grow, not just as a circus company but also as artists, teachers, and community providers.