Shortlist announced for the National Eisteddfod of Wales' Gold Medal for Architecture

4 July 2019

Two primary schools, a cancer support centre, a museum gallery and workshop, a cultural community resource centre, a creative and digital industries hub and a  private residence are in the running for the National Eisteddfod of Wales’ Gold Medal for Architecture

Ysgol Trimsaran; Ysgol Pen Rhos, Llanelli; Maggie’s, Cardiff; Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham; Y Gweithdy, National Museum of History, St Fagans;  Canolfan S4C Yr Egin, Carmarthen and Silver How, Llanhennock were announced as potential contenders for the prestigious award today (Thursday, 4 July 2019) at a reception held at the MOSTYN, Llandudno - the art gallery which won Ellis Williams Architects, Warrington the Gold Medal for Architecture in 2011.

Supported by the Design Commission for Wales, and awarded in association with the Royal Society of Architects in Wales, the Gold Medal for Architecture recognises the importance of architecture in the nation's culture and honours architects achieving the highest design standards. It is awarded to buildings completed between 1 January 2016 and 1 March 2019.

The full shortlist includes: Ysgol Trimsaran; Ysgol Pen Rhos, Llanelli; Maggie’s, Cardiff;  Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham; Canolfan S4C Yr Egin, Carmarthen; Y Gweithdy, National Museum of History, St Fagans and Silver How, Llanhennock.

Ysgol Trimsaran

Ysgol Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire is the first entire school building designed to Passivhaus standards in Wales (Passivhaus being the international standard for energy efficiency in a building.) The building accomodates a new one-form-entry primary school and nursery. The multi-level scheme nestles into its hillside locaton. Elevations have been finished in a mix of slate tiles, paired with Welsh larch and a sedum. The wooden structure is of domestically grown timber. Ysgol Trimsaran aims to provide an exemplar learning environment, that supports the health and wellbeing of its occupants, where pupils want to learn. The scale and flexibility of spaces allows teachers to execute different teaching methods that were previously not possible. Designed by Hereford practice Architype Ltd.

Ysgol Pen Rhos  

Ysgol Pen Rhos in Llanelli is a new primary school that replaces two existing schools, which were in poor condition with inherent defects. The roof terraces and courtyards along with the mix of hard and soft landscapes and diverse ecology provide a broad range of learning resources. The facility regenerates a derelict industrial site and has remodelled the external landscape to provide a welcoming and inclusive educational environment with a strong connection to the local community. With sustainability a driving consideration the scheme adopted Passivhaus principles to ensure a BREEAM 2008 Excellent rating. Designed by HLM Architects’ Cardiff office.

Maggie’s Cardiff

Maggie’s centres aim to provide practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer. The building at Cardiff’s Velindre Hospital is located on an unremarkable triangular shaped site in the corner of a car park. Its form and materiality seek to reflect the surrounding scenery and provide a range of uplifting spaces that have a strong relationship to nature. The silhouette of the building echoes the shapes of the local mountains, whilst the rusty, wrinkly steel cladding is the colour of the bracken. The interior spaces are formed between Douglas Fir lined walls which have a warmth and softness, and contrasts with the sleek polished concrete floor. At the heart of the building is the cwtch, a tall and intimate roof-lit space, inspired by the simnau fawr (big chimney) of vernacular Welsh architecture. Designed by Dow Jones Architects, London.

Tŷ Pawb

Tŷ Pawb (everybody’s house) relocates the town’s art gallery to an existing purpose-built 1980s multi-storey car park and market hall. The new facilities include art galleries, market stalls, performance space, a learning centre, cafes and bars. Studios and meeting rooms for artists and gallery staff overlook newly created double-height spaces. The original carpark facility remains in use on the upper storeys.

The retrofit design scheme introduces cuts into the existing precast concrete building fabric bringing natural light deep into the plan and creating dramatic vertical connections between floors. Tŷ Pawb behaves as an extension of Wrexham’s town centre, and plays on the longstanding, popular use of the building as a shortcut to cross the town. Designed by London based practice Featherstone Young.

Canolfan S4C Yr Egin

Canolfan S4C Yr Egin is a new media-hub on the Carmarthen campus of University of Wales Trinity St David. The building provides space for S4C – the Welsh-language TV channel - and other creative, digital and cultural practitioners. The internal layout of the triangular, three storey building is focused around a public foyer and atrium that links the three floors. The ground floor contains a spacious café, broadcasting and performance space for the use of tenants and community groups. The upper levels contain flexible office space for the creative tenants together with S4C’s presence on the 1st floor. The appearance of the building changes as one moves around it. The curtain wall glass which wraps the office space is designed to ‘float’ over the solid ground floor plinth whilst also reflecting the surrounding landscape. The overall composition ‘glows’ at night and reinforces the connectivity of spaces. Designed by BDP, Bristol with the Rural Office for Architecture, Carmarthen.


Gweithdy at the National Museum of History, St Fagans celebrates the culture, heritage and skills of Welsh craft in a new gallery, workshop and visitor hub providing flexible workshop and demonstration spaces. It also houses a new coffee shop and visitor toilets. Integrated into the renewed 19th century woodland setting the building is situated next to a stepped amphitheatre and at a crossing of paths, and creates a focal point for this part of the museum park. The triangular form is wrapped in a skin which changes in reflectivity, transparency and opacity. The sharp lines of the glazing contrast with the site’s vegetation whilst breaking down the mass of the building by reflecting back its surroundings. The building is also softened by vertical timber battens which blur the edges between the light and dark reflective areas. Designed by architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Bath.

Silver How

This new five bedroom dwelling near Caerleon replaces a dilapidated 1960’s house built next to an Arts and Crafts stable. Located within the Conservation Area of Llanhennock the site is dominated by trees - notably several enormous oaks with legal protection. It was deemed essential to retain the early 20th century stable whilst preserving the  trees which are an important asset to the village.The design repurposes the stable as a generous family kitchen, connected by a glazed link to a new stone-built wing The two blocks combine to form an ‘L’ shaped plan that embraces a south-facing courtyard.  A steel frame design allows a flexible layout to benefit from large spans and slender structure, combining the lightness and transparency of modern construction with the permanence and heft of locally quarried sandstone. Designed by Chepstow practice Hall + Bednarczyk.


Three of the shortlisted projects – Gweithdy, Ysgol Trimsaran and Silver How have already won the Royal Society of Architects in Wales 2019 Welsh Architecture Awards. Ysgol Timsaran was also awarded the RSAW Sustainability Award and Silver How architects Martin Hall and Kelly Bednarzyek won the additional accolade of RSAW Project Architects of the Year:

Carole-Anne Davies, Chief Executive of the Design Commission for Wales, said: “This year we have already seen a number of these Welsh projects recognised by the Royal Society of Architects in Wales and the Royal Intitute of Chartered Surveyors. Their quality and the ingenuity of the design teams is truly excellent. It is a very impressive shortlist demonstrating clients with vision and design teams working with flair and creativity in their problem solving. The competition is fierce, and the 2019 Gold Medal will be hard won.”

The shortlist was drawn up by selectors and architects Wendy James and Trevor Skempton After further deliberation over the coming month, one of the shortlisted buildings may be awarded the Gold Medal for Architecture on 3 August 2019 at the Conwy County National Eisteddfod of Wales held in Llanrwst.

Selector Trevor Skempton said: “In both the number of submissions - twenty-seven -  and overall quality, this is an impressive year. Several schemes combined active support for the Welsh language with a coherent architectural culture and special sense of place. Meanwhile, in our towns and high streets, ‘urban design’ - ‘place-making’, sustainability, masterplanning, active street frontages, flexible mixed-uses, and the potential for recycling and retro-fitting older buildings has moved up the agenda.

“In selecting a short-list for exhibition, we found ourselves drawn towards those projects in which the architect had managed to provide something extra-special, beyond that which might have been expected. This could be added value, long-term sustainability, or even genuine transformation for a community.

“Above all, as ever, there is delight in beautifully-crafted buildings which give both client and user more than they could have imagined.”

Mary Wrenn, Director of the Royal Society of Architects in Wales, said: “Wales can be truly proud of this remarkable shortlist. Once again, architects in Wales have put sustainability at the top of the agenda and delivered demonstrable value for money for their clients.”

All seven shortlisted projects for the Gold Medal will be visited by landscape and built environment photographer, James Morris, and poet, Beth Celyn, who will respond in verse. This will form the basis of the Architecture in Wales exhibition at Llanrwst during the Conwy County 2019 National Eisteddfod of Wales from 3 – 10 August. Supported through the partnership between the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Design Commission for Wales and the Royal Society of Architects in Wales, the exhibition aims to raise the profile of architecture in Wales and communicate the contribution the built environment makes to the country.

The National Eisteddfod of Wales’ Gold Medal for Architecture was established through the efforts of architect and town planner, Thomas Alwyn Lloyd (1881 - 1960). It was first offered in 1954 but never awarded during his lifetime. The first accolade was awarded in 1960 to Grenfell Baines & Hargreaves of Preston for the Warehouse and Offices of H J Heinz Ltd, Western Avenue, Cardiff. The Award is made in association with the Royal Society of Architects in Wales and has been supported by the Design Commission for Wales since 2009.