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Featherstone Young’s gallery under car park wins Welsh Gold Medal

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Featherstone Young’s gallery-beneath-a car park in Wrexham has seen off six other shortlisted schemes to win the 2019 Gold Medal for Architecture in Wales

The £4.3 million project – Tŷ Pawb project, meaning Everybody’s House – was announced as the country’s best new building at the National Eisteddfod of Wales on Saturday (3 August).

The 3,705m² scheme transformed the town’s old People’s Market, in the spaces below a still-operational 1980s multistorey car park, into a new creative hub with art galleries, market stalls, performance space, a learning centre, cafés, studios and meeting rooms. 

The ’visionary’ project was chosen ahead of Dow Jones’ Maggie’s Centre in Cardiff, primary schools by Architype and HLM, a house by Hall + Bednarczyk, a university media hub by BDP with Rural Office for Architecture and a gallery and workshop at St Fagans, by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

Gold Medal judge and architect Trevor Skempton said: ’The future of our town centres and high streets is a pressing concern for architects, and Tŷ Pawb tackled this urban problem in an immediate and imaginative way, by recycling and retrofitting a town centre structure from the 1980s.

’There was evidently visionary architectural thinking in Wrexham County Borough Council’s commissioning process, in which the possibility of using space in this way was first identified.

‘Realisation of what has been called baggy space, the introduction of warmer materials, the ‘choreography’ of the new services, clear respect for the qualities of the existing structure, and the exciting co-ordination of graphics and furniture design, have led towards an integrated architecture of genuine quality, with exciting potential for further growth and development.’

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Imgs ty pawb3

Sarah Featherstone of Featherstone Young said the scheme had ’social value at its heart’. She said: ’Our baggy space concept applied to the physical spaces has extended to the exhibition programming and invites the wider community to use the building in a range of different ways and have a platform to raise important local and cultural issues.’

Meanwhile the award for the best small project with a value of up to £750,000 – the Plaque of Merit – was handed to Dow Jones’ ‘convincing’ Maggie’s Centre.

All seven of the finalists for the Gold Medal form the basis of the Architecture in Wales exhibition at Llanrwst, which runs until 10 August 2019.

Carole-Anne Davies, chief executive of the Design Commission for Wales, added: ’The shortlist and award winners this year have been characterised by the ingenuity that accompanies very good design. The constraints of tight sites and seemingly intractable urban challenges have created the conditions for the very best creative problem solving, intrinsic to architectural excellence.

’Clearly addressing the need for buildings and places where people can connect and communicate with one another is vital for well-being and cohesion.’

Last year the award was picked up by KKE Architects for St David’s Hospice In-patients Unit at Newport and in 2017 by Stride Treglown for Ysgol Bae Baglan in Port Talbot. 

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Featherstone Young’s Tŷ Pawb (Everybody’s House) in Wrexham - the winner of the 2019 Gold Medal for Architecture

Featherstone Young’s Tŷ Pawb (Everybody’s House) in Wrexham - the winner of the 2019 Gold Medal for Architecture

The shortlist 

  • [WINNER] Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham, by Featherstone Young
  • Ysgol Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire, by Architype
  • Ysgol Pen Rhos, Llanelli, by HLM
  • Maggie’s Cardiff, by Dow Jones Architects
  • Canolfan S4C Yr Egin, University of Wales Trinity St David, Carmarthen, by BDP with Rural Office for Architecture
  • Gweithdy, National Museum of History, St Fagans, by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
  • Silver How, Caerleon, by Hall + Bednarczyk
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