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KKE’s hospice addition wins best new building in Wales award

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KKE Architects’ new in-patient unit for a hospice in Newport has won the National Eisteddfod of Wales’s Gold Medal for Architecture 

St David’s Hospice by the Worcester-based practice, the only English firm on the shortlist, overlooks the Brecon Beacons and has 15 bedrooms, clinical offices, bathrooms, and social areas.

KKE saw off competition from a shortlist including AJ100 practice Purcell, 2016 Stirling Prize contenders Loyn + Co, George and Cardiff’s Powell Dobson.

The fifth shortlisted practice, local outfit George + Tomos Architects, was awarded the 2018 Plaque of Merit for smaller projects of up to £750,000, for its community-run shop, café and social hub with a flexible meeting space in Tre’r-ddôl.

Judge Alun Jones of Dow Jones Architects, said KKE’s winning building reclaimed the true meaning of ‘care’ and ‘set a benchmark for future healthcare buildings’.

He said: ’From the first point of arrival, to entering the building and moving through the seamlessly connected spaces, there is a subliminal sense of calm and a palpable sense of care. Material tactility, colour harmonies and every patient need have been considered afresh.

’The result is the reflection of a strong vision of an enlightened client, and the ability of an architect to respond to this in a meaningful and beautiful way.’

Commenting on George + Tomos’ community centre, Hyde + Hyde Architects partner Kay Hyde described it as a ‘small oasis’. 

She said: ’A replacement for an outdated facility; the new building is relocated on a former petrol station site to take advantage of a south-facing orientation that maximises natural daylight. This is a delightful building and it could be argued that its only drawback is the popularity of its own success.’

The other shortlisted projects included a museum and visitor attraction at Yr Ysgwrn in Trawsfynydd, Snowdonia, created by Purcell’s Conwy office, Abergavenny family home Vila Mir by Loyn + Co and Powell Dobson’s redevelopment of a Grade II*-listed Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea.

Carole-Anne Davies, chief executive of the Design Commission for Wales, said: ’This year’s awards highlight the value architectural excellence brings to our everyday lives and experience. They show how good design creates environments that offer calm and sanctuary when we are at our most vulnerable and bring moments of delight in our day-to-day interactions.’

Supported by the Design Commission for Wales, and awarded in association with the Royal Society of Architects in Wales, the prize was open to buildings completed between 1 January 2015 and 1 March 2018. The shortlist was drawn up by architects Kay Hyde and Alun Jones. 

Last year’s award was won by a £40 million ’super school’ in Port Talbot by Stride Treglown.

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