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A New Era for Architecture in Wales

During the previous 20 years, unfortunately, Wales have largely failed to leave an impressive change to the landscapes and cityscapes of the Country. Apart from a few examples, such as the Millennium Centre in Cardiff, there has been no fresh architecture that has gained any sort of notice from the rest of the world.

In the South there have been various constructions in and around the capital, but construction in North Wales has not seen any new fangled developments in recent years. We have not created anything close to the magnificent offerings of the city of London. The ‘Gherkin’ and the ‘Shard’ are both visual and engineering delights. Or so you thought…

Slowly but surely things have began to happen. There are two new buildings that have recently been awarded with the Royal Institute of British Architects awards (RIBA) – the highest honour in the world of architecture.

The first is the new Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama building which is based in Cardiff. Built as part of the £27.5 million regeneration of the Welsh conservatoire it consists of a 450 capacity concert hall, studio spaces and a drama theatre – all underneath a floating roof. Its use of beautiful materials and eye catching lines has firmly placed the building up in the epochs of modern, international architecture.

Based in Swansea, Maggie’s South West Wales Cancer Centre at Singleton Hospital in Swansea is the other building to receive this prestigious award. This work of art is a spherical, swirling piece of cutting edge architecture and is firmly placing its marker down in the leading line of contemporary design.

On top of these two wondrous fixtures, other buildings and individuals are also being recognised. The firm behind the design for the Archbishop McGrath Catholic High School near Bridgend, Cardiff based HLM Architects won the Gold Medal in the Architecture at this year’s National Eisteddfod. And the recent innovative rebuild of Gwyn Hall, in Neath, is on course for an ‘Architect’s Journal Retrofit Award in the Cultural Buildings Category’.

It is great to see that, even in times of austerity, Welsh architecture is booming. Despite operating under stringent financial constraints, the skilled and talented creative individuals are continuing to engage with architecture. These buildings are high quality, clever and will enhance the daily lives of many people.

On the back of engaging with individuals at the National Eisteddfod, the Royal Society of Architects in Wales (RSAW) is planning on continuing their project throughout the country. They hope that through raising awareness and helping to promote design, the future generation will have the hope and the belief to progress these forward thinking, innovative and economically sound ideas and take them to their natural fruition.

Wales as an architectural superpower? Who’d a guessed it!

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