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Cardiff Building Secures Prestigious Architecture Award at National Eisteddfod

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Cardiff home secures designer back-to-back Gold Medals at National Eisteddfod architecture competition

A private home in a leafy suburb of Cardiff, has won its architects the prestigious Gold Medal for Architecture at the National Eisteddfod of Wales – the first time since 1979 that the prize has been awarded to the same firm for two years running.

Millbrook House Cardiff 2. Please credit Ståle Eriksen (1024x649)

Eight building projects were shortlisted for this year’s Gold Medal for Architecture, which is supported by the Design Commission for Wales and awarded in association with the Royal Society of Architects in Wales. The winning design, by Loyn & Co, was revealed at the National Eisteddfod today (1st August) to deliver the architect a third Gold Medal after winning the accolade in 2014 with Stormy Castle, a family home in a remote part of Gower and 2007 with the Water Tower in Cyncoed, Cardiff.

Also revealed at the National Eisteddfod was the winner of this year’s Plaque of Merit, given to smaller projects of a value of up to £750,000, achieving high design quality and an Architecture Scholarship of £1,500, both supported by the Design Commission for Wales.

Carole-Anne Davies, Chief executive of the Design Commission for Wales said ‘Loyn & Co are consistently raising their game and expanding the possibilities of architecture for the domestic scale. The practice already has a Gold Medal and the coveted Manser award for Stormy Castle and is fast becoming one of the best practices working in residential development. It is absolutely fitting that they are recognised with this year’s Medal. The practice should also be recognised for the young talent it has nurtured in the team, who are committed to delivering the best quality, imaginative design for individual dwellings and medium sized residential schemes – they are the buildings that matter most in all our lives.”

The Gold Medal-winning design for Millbrook House was conceived as a series of buildings that float and overlap each other. Embracing the natural elements of the site, the ground floor brickwork ‘garden wall’ and combination of glazed and timber-clad elevations weave inside and out of the house, creating beautiful internal and external spaces. The building had already picked up a RIBA 2015 Architecture in Wales Award and now adds the Eisteddfod’s Gold Medal to its accolades.

“Although Millbrook House was not at first an obvious candidate, it became clear that the design is a superb response to its setting, with a glorious surprise of courtyard spaces awaiting the visitor within the perimeter wall,” explains Pat Borer who, together with Elinor Gray-Williams, from Donald Insall Associates, selected this year’s shortlist and winners.

“The shallow plans and multiple courtyards allow many different ‘realms’ to be created and occupied by the family members, while the sweeping zinc roof on the north, roadside elevation succeeds in reducing the bulk of this large house,” continued Mr Borer.

“There is assured handling of the interior spaces, with exciting volumes and framed views into the courtyards, as well as to the main garden. The construction is also very well executed by an enthusiastic contractor, while the cost/m2 and the energy performance are both modest.”

Chris Loyn, principal architect at Loyn & Co, said: “Raising the quality of architecture in Wales has been one of the practice’s core objectives since we started in 1987, so being awarded the Eisteddfod Gold Medal is incredibly significant and important to us. We are honoured to have won this title for the second year running (and for the third time in our history) and hope that our work will be inspirational to others practising in Wales and, vitally, to those who procure buildings to realise that quality can be achieved with the right team of client consultants and contractors.

“Our housing projects always seek to represent a unique response to the site context and to the client brief, although there has developed over the years a consistency to our analysis and design approach. In the case of Millbrook House the design originates from an ‘Arts and Crafts’ source, focussing very much on the art of ‘making’, allowing the method of construction to be clearly expressed and to remain legible in its finished form.”

There was a stand-out winner of the 2015 Plaque of Merit in Hall + Bednarczyk’s new, four-bedroomed family home set in a secluded Monmouthshire valley. Selector Elinor Gray-Williams, from Donald Insall Associates, said:

“The principle achievement of the architects of The Nook, near Chepstow is the creation of a simple form that just looks totally right for its site. The house is obviously modern, with modern preoccupations of solid and void, light, comfort and flexibility, yet its barn shape simply fits its Welsh rolling valley locale beautifully.

“A steep-pitched slate roof and basic shape has been exploited in creating some exciting spaces and an efficient, practical plan for day to day family living. Despite being of modest cost, the interior has been fitted out with ingenuity and charm, with large hand-made sliding doors and other local materials, including stone from a nearby quarry for the buttressing gable walls and the massive chimney.”

All eight shortlisted projects for the Gold Medal will be included in the Architecture in Wales exhibition at the National Eisteddfod of Wales from 1 – 8 August.

The third architectural announcement at today’s Eisteddfod was the news that local student Jonathan Evans, 22, from Llanidloes, was selected from a diverse group of candidates to receive a £1,500 Architecture Scholarship as part of the National Eisteddfod celebrations. The Design Commission for Wales is determined that alongside accomplished practises, new talent is also recognised and encourage through the scholarship award.

Mr Evans was praised by scholarship selectors Aled Wyn Davies and Trevor Skempton for his maturity and proficiency, as well as his willingness to take a critical view of ‘nondescript and soulless developments’. Trevor Skempton, also commented;

“His portfolio shows the benefit of a number of years of experience and development and, although much emphasis in recent years has been on developing computer-based skills, we were heartened to see an ability to sketch and draw. We feel that ability is so valuable, not just in visualising spatial concepts but also in communicating between architect and client or building user. We were also impressed with his critical and rounded approach to architecture in its broadest sense and felt that he has the potential to exert a positive influence on the practice in the future.”

Mr Evans is currently studying for a Masters degree at Liverpool University and begins a four-month placement in Berlin in September.