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BBC Wales HQ misses out on listing

The Welsh Government has decided not to list the 1966 Broadcasting House site in Cardiff against the recommendations of heritage advisors Cadw

Cadw had recommended that the building be Grade II-listed, and in its assessment said: ‘The building is recommended for listing on the basis of its special architectural interest as a sensitively designed complex of buildings by one of Wales’ leading modernist architects, and as an exemplary modernist building. It is also of special historic interest as the only purpose-built national public service broadcasting centre of its period in Wales.’

But Welsh minister of culture and sport John Griffiths decided against listing the 40,500m² Broadcasting House site on the grounds that it was not of special or historic interest.

The decision has been slammed by the Twentieth Century Society which described the building as ‘one of Wales’ most outstanding post-war buildings’.

In a statement the organisation said: ‘We believe this historic TV and radio complex, designed by renowned Welsh architect Dale Owen as principle architect of Percy Thomas Partnership, is one of Wales’ most outstanding and important post-war buildings. It is also one of the best remaining examples of this highly significant Welsh architectural practice.

‘We have seen no evidence that the building could not be converted to new uses once the BBC moves out. Demolition would result in a wasteful and unnecessary loss of a key part of Wales’ architectural heritage.’

The campus, designed by Welsh architect Dale Owen, is under threat from redevelopment after the corporation put the plot in north Cardiff on the market last summer as part of plans to relocate to a new purpose-built centre in the Welsh capital.

Much of BBC Wales’ drama production has already moved to the FAT-designed Roath Lock Studios, in Cardiff Bay.

Previous story (AJ 20.02.14)

C20 Society backs calls to list BBC Wales HQ

The Twentieth Century Society has backed a move by Cadw to list home of the BBC in Wales for the last 50 years

Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh Government, is considering whether to list the 1966 Broadcasting House site, which covers 40,500m² and includes BBC Cymru Wales’ 22,300m² former headquarters building.

The campus, designed by Welsh architect Dale Owen, is under threat from redevelopment after the corporation put the plot in north Cardiff on the market last summer as part of plans to relocate to a new purpose-built centre in the Welsh capital.

Owen, who worked in the US with the founder of the Bauhaus school Walter Gropius, is recognised as one of Wales’ most important Modernist architects. He also designed the National Museum of Wales at St Fagan’s and the Grade II-listed Arts Centre in Aberystwyth.

Henrietta Billings, senior conservation adviser at the Twentieth Century Society said: ‘The BBC building is one of Wales’ most outstanding and important Modernist buildings, and one of the best remaining examples of this highly significant Welsh architectural practice.

‘We believe this iconic set of buildings should be listed and celebrated as a key part of Wales’s cultural and architectural heritage. We would like to see them retained and converted – not demolished – as part of any new use for the site.’

Judi Loach, architectural historian at the University of Cardiff added: ‘This is the outstanding Modernist building of the post war era in Cardiff and indeed one of the very few in Wales that can stand comparison with first rate architecture abroad.

‘This is the most significant twentieth century building to be threatened in Wales since the loss of the grade II*-listed rubber factory in Brynmawr, south Wales built 1946-51, demolished in 2001.’

The Royal Society of Architects in Wales has also joined the calls for statutory protection for the the building with its president Dan Benham claiming the building was ‘a key example of design from its time’ and had ‘significant architectural merit’.

He said: ‘Any student of Welsh architecture knows that this building is a key link in the architectural history of Wales. [We do] not want to see buildings of this significance being lost to future generations.’

Much of BBC Wales’ drama production has already moved to the FAT-designed Roath Lock Studios, in Cardiff Bay.

A recommendation on the listing, which will ultimately be decided by the Secretary of State, is due in March 2014.

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