Promoting good design


Our vision is for a Wales that is simply a better place.


As an expert body, the Design Commission for Wales was established by the National Assembly for Wales to promote good design. We work with local planning authorities, investors, developers and commissioning clients to capture the value of high quality design; helping you to deliver better outcomes, a better return on investment and greater public good. We also nurture the design talent and skills necessary for growth and innovation.

With a remit spanning the whole of the built environment in Wales, we are an expert, multi-disciplinary team. We are not a membership organisation or professional body and we do not represent the interests of any single profession.

Our purpose is to:

  • Champion high standards of design and architecture to the public and private sector in Wales by promoting wider understanding of design issues and the importance of good standards in enhancing the built environment across all sectors.
  • Promote design practice that is compatible with the Welsh Assembly Government’s Sustainable Development Scheme, promoting best practice in energy efficiency, waste disposal and public transport.
  • Encourage design practice that is compatible with the highest standards in relation to equal opportunity and promoting social inclusion.
  • Give due regard to promoting excellence in day to day developments, like housing estates and industrial units, as well as promoting excellence in prestige projects.

How to find us

The Design Commission for Wales is based at 4th Floor, Cambrian Buildings, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff, CF10 5FL. The historic Mount Stuart Square located in Cardiff’s former Dockland area, is now part of the waterfront area known as Cardiff Bay. The Square extends beyond the Coal Exchange its most famous historic building, now the Exchange Hotel, to the edge of West Bute Street. You will find the Grade II listed Cambrian Buildings at the corner of Mount Stuart Square and West Bute Street, directly opposite St Stephens Church. You can view our location on Google maps using the icon on our contact page.

Approaching at the stepped entrance, please press the intercom buzzer on arrival and take the Grade II Listed elevator to the 4th Floor and exit to the right. If approaching via the accessible entrance to the left, take the same elevator to the 4th floor – we can also arrange to meet and accompany visitors in advance.


About our building

The Grade II listed Cambrian Buildings were built on the site of the Bute Town National School and originally constructed between 1907-10 as the offices for the Cambrian Coal Combine. They were designed by architect Henry Budgen from Cardiff, who also designed the Cymric Buildings, which face the Cambrian buildings on West Bute Street.

The Cambrian Buildings are impressive, conveying their historic importance through a range of clues. The South elevation consists of five storeys, and five bays. The first, second and third floors are articulated by giant pilasters with Ionic derived capitals portraying dolphins, sea monsters and walruses. The ground floor is banded with large keystones. The fourth floor has tripartite windows above the cornice. The central doorway is flanked by pilasters with ships and anchor chains in ionic derived capitals. Today the buildings have a modern hipped roof.

Outside Cambrian Buildings you will find a Grade II listed cylindrical, cast-iron pillar box dating from the early 20th century, designed with a fluted rim to a shallow domed cap. The door of the pillar box is monogrammed “E VII R”, and the manufacturers name is on the plinth, “McDowall Steven & Co Ltd, London & Glasgow”. The Cambrian Buildings and our lovely pillar box are listed because of their design by a well-regarded local architect and their group value as early 20th century commercial buildings on a prominent site at the entrance to Mount Stuart Square.

Find out more from Cadw and the Pevsner Guide to Glamorgan by John Newman, widely available.


Arriving by Public Transport

You may find the following public transport websites helpful Please check all your travel details and plans in advance.

From Cardiff Wales Airport via Taxi – details from the Airport on arrival. T9 Bus Service details from Traveline Cymru. Regular trains operate between Cardiff Queen Street Station and Cardiff Bay Station. Taxi’s are available at the front of Cardiff Central Rail Station. By foot or bicycle you can reach us via various routes including Bute Street and Dumballs Road from the city centre – please check the Google maps link.


Interested in finding out more? You can call us on 029 2045 1964 or email

Team & Board

Read more information on our team members and board here.

Gayna Jones BA Hons, FCIH, FRSAChair, Board of Directors

Chair of the Design Commission for Wales Gayna is a graduate of Aberystwyth University, with private, public and voluntary sector experience throughout her career. Starting in human resources in a Unilever company, she went on to work for Women’s Aid, finally settling into a career in housing. After a decade as Chief Executive of a Housing Association, she established her own Housing Consultancy. Gayna has also served as a local authority councillor, was the first independent member appointed to the Regulatory Board for Wales, and was appointed a Commissioner on the Board of the Design Commission for Wales in 2010. Gayna is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing (FCIH) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)

Carole-Anne Davies, BA (Hons), PG Dip. Chief Executive

Carole-Anne was previously Director of Cardiff Bay Arts Trust, a Trustee of Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales, former consultant to the Scottish Government and a Trustee of the Architectural Heritage Fund. She is founding Chair of Gregynog Trust, the charity that owns the Grade II* Listed Gregynog Hall and Estate in mid-Wales. As the Commission's founding chief executive, she established an agile, co-production business model at DCFW, integrating the expertise of independent, multidisciplinary, private sector professionals with that of the core staff team. An humanities graduate, she is also an alumna of CSCLeaders Commonwealth International Study Conference, of Harvard Kennedy School Executive Programme and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

Sue Jones, MBA, MSc, Assoc CIPDResources & Finance Manager

Sue manages the Commission’s human and financial resources and joined the Commission in 2003. Responsible for financial controls, HR, Health & Safety, administration systems and team support, Sue also coordinates Design review services, case study and publication research and data management. Sue’s strategic and operational background includes finance, human resources, contract management, policy development, employee welfare and well-being. Sue holds an MBA with Distinction alongside her MSc HRM with Merit and has a strong track record in government funding mechanisms, personnel management and the provision of contracted services. Sue is a member of CIPD.

Jen Heal, BSc (Hons) MA, MRTPIDeputy Chief Executive

An urban designer and planner, Jen joined the Design Commission for Wales in 2014. With significant professional experience in the private sector, Jen studied City & Regional Planning and her MA in Urban Design at Cardiff University. Jen is a fully accredited member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI). Jen’s role at the Commission includes developing and promoting DCFW’s design services, training, events and engagement throughout Wales, preparing guidance and leading client support. In her previous roles, Jen led a diverse range of urban design, planning and regeneration projects for public, private and third sector clients. She has delivered design concepts, town centre strategies, environmental improvement schemes and planning applications as well as developing engagement and training programmes. Jen is a Commissioner of the South East Wales Transport Commission, chaired by Lord Burns.

Max Hampton BA (Hons), MA, MRTPIDesign Advisor

Max joined the Design Commission for Wales as a Design Advisor in 2023.
As a chartered town planner, Max has worked in the private and public sector in development management and planning policy.
Max previously worked for the Welsh Government developing national planning policy and guidance on design, sustainable buildings, transport and renewable energy. He was heavily involved in putting placemaking at the heart of Planning Policy Wales and worked with the Design Commission to develop the Placemaking Charter.
Most recently, Max worked at Cardiff Council project managing the design and planning of housing developments. In this role, he championed good design with a focus on the built form, public spaces and people living there.

Ian Carter BSc, MA Urban Design, MRTPICommissioner, Board of Directors

Ian is a Development Director who has held a range of senior roles in both public and private sector organisations. With experience in housing (both private and social), hotel and hospitality, commercial and industrial projects he offers a broad range of expertise to the Commission. Ian is a chartered town planner and qualified urban designer, receiving his Honours degree in City & Regional Planning and Masters in Urban Design from Cardiff University. He has long experience of, and is a passionate advocate for the Commission and its Design Review Service.

Elinor Gray-Williams BA (Hons) BArch RIBA SCACommissioner, Board of Directors

Elinor Gray-Williams is a Chartered Architect and RIBA Specialist Conservation Architect. She joined Donald Insall Associates in 2007 after completing the SPAB Lethaby and Plunket Scholarships. Elinor leads the Conwy office of the firm and is an experienced historic buildings architect with a strong commitment to Wales and its heritage. Elinor enjoys the challenges of designing new buildings and interventions within historic settings, and works creatively to maximise opportunities for sustainability.

Fiona NixonCommissioner, Board of Directors

Fiona is an Architect and former Head of Estates Projects at Swansea University.
After graduating from the Welsh School of Architecture, she spent several years in private practice in Glasgow working primarily on medical research facilities for the HE Sector. She joined Swansea University in 1994 and there she managed complex programmes of development and building projects and across the University's estate.
Fiona is a strong advocate of collaborative working and has extensive experience of procuring and managing consultant and contractor frameworks. She has also had significant involvement in championing equality and diversity in Higher Education and in the Construction Industry.

Mike BiddulphCommissioner, Board of Directors

Mike Biddulph is an urban designer working for Cardiff Council. He is a graduate of the urban design programme at Oxford Brookes University.

Mike began his career with Oxford City Council and then lectured in urban design at the Universities of both Liverpool and then Cardiff, where he founded and initially directed their MA Urban Design. He maintains a keen interest in how design is dealt with by the UK planning systems and has published extensively on urban design theory and principles, neighbourhood planning and design, master planning and design coding, various approaches to urban regeneration and renewal, as well as street and public realm design.

Mike was at the forefront of efforts to get home zones introduced into the UK. He has been a strong advocate of the Design Commission for Wales for many years having made contributions to Design Review, completed research and also led training programmes across Wales.

Cora KwiatkowskiCommissioner, Board of Directors

Cora is an architect with over 20 years’ international experience and a Divisional Director and Sector Lead for Stride Treglown Universities, a Sustainability Champion and member of the internal Research and Innovation and Consultancy Initiative steering group.

With her strong strategic design background, Cora has been responsible for high-value award-winning projects, including higher education, student accommodation and workplace schemes as design lead and client adviser. She has also led multidisciplinary teams. Previous award-winning multidisciplinary projects in the UK, Germany and Sweden also included masterplans, design codes, large mixed-use, residential and transport projects.

Cora’s focus is on user experience. She is passionate about collaborative stakeholder engagement and has contributed to ground-breaking social media-based research at the University of the West of England and the ‘Inhabitant’ publications.

Cora has demonstrated promoting good design as a thought-leader through chairing the Design Review Panel at the Design Commission for Wales and Design West for several years. She is also a RIBA Client Adviser, Design Council Expert, Board Trustee for the Architecture Centre Bristol, and member of the Higher Education Design Quality Forum research group. Cora was Finalist in the ‘Best Woman Architect’ category at the Women in Construction and Engineering European Awards 2019.

Joanna ReesCommissioner, Board of Directors

Joanna Rees is a Partner with law firm Blake Morgan in Cardiff. She specialises in construction and development schemes and heads the firm’s cross-discipline Infrastructure team. She has considerable experience in large-scale public and private development work, regeneration schemes and infrastructure projects.
Originally from Porthcawl, Jo graduated from Bristol University and worked in the City before returning to Wales. Her clients recognise her as a “trusted advisor” who is unafraid to challenge complex issues and find acceptable pragmatic resolutions within governance requirements. She understands the strict requirements of accountability, transparency, and value for money that public expenditure requires.
Jo’s career to date has featured several key transport systems which are a testament to the regenerative power of infrastructure – such as Croydon Tramlink, Docklands Light Railway, Jubilee Line, Transport for Wales Core Valley Lines together with major road schemes.
Jo has been involved in several key regeneration schemes in South Wales including the inner-city development of Swansea and Porth Teigr and Loudon Square in Cardiff. She also has valuable experience working on renewable energy schemes such as wind, solar, tidal and anaerobic digestion.

Jo is also a trustee of Wales Millennium Centre, a Cardiff Business Council member and is a Welsh speaker.

Jon JamesCommissioner, Board of Directors

Jon is a registered Architect and a certified Passive House designer. He is also on the RIBA Conservation register.
A graduate of the University of Plymouth, Jon has developed a design focused architectural portfolio. Having worked on or led teams working on a variety of different projects valued up to £180 million, Jon has worked for a number of award-winning practices around the South-West of England and South Wales.
As an experienced Architect who specialises in conservation, Jon has designed and delivered buildings within conservation areas and converted grade II listed buildings for residential and the education sector. He has formal education in conservation architecture and has experience of working with conservation officers demonstrating good working and background knowledge of key aspects of conservation practice, principles and philosophy.
Jon is passionate about sustainable design. Driven by the need to act on the climate emergencies he founded Jon James Studio Architecture, with sustainability as the backbone of the studio. He firmly believes that sustainable design requires consideration at the start of any project as decisions made not only have an impact on the construction process but influence the whole life of the building.
Jon works with the Welsh School of Architecture as a consultant and examiner for final year graduates. He has collaborated with the Low Carbon Research Institute including working on the European education research paper and speaking at their annual conference. Jon has also spoken at a number of other national conferences including a national BIM conference and the Education Estates conferences.

Design Review Panel
Toby AdamArchitecture, Urban Design, Gaunt Francis Architects
Jonathan AdamsArchitecture, JA & Partners
Maria AsenjoArchitecture, Procurement, Project Management, MACE
Ashley BatesonBuilding Services Engineering, Sustainability, Hoare Lea
Jamie Brewster - Co-ChairArchitecture
Simon CarneArchitecture, Urban Design, Consultant
Kedrick Davies - Co-ChairPlanning, Urban Design, Consultant
Barny EvansSustainability and Climate Change, Turley
Magda FabisiakEngineering Highways Infrastructure, Jacobs
Mike Gwyther-JonesArchitecture, Hammersmith & City
Mark HallettArchitecture, Property, Regeneration, Igloo
Jonathan HinesArchitecture, Decarbonisation, Architype
Gareth HowellArchitecture, Urban Design, EDP
Jun HuangArchitecture, Commercial & Property Development, Wei Yang & Partners
Chris JeffordArchitecture, Planning, Gaunt Francis Architects
Ewan Jones - Co-ChairArchitecture, Infrastructure, Grimshaw Global
Helen KaneAccess, Inclusion, Consultant
Martin KnightStructures Architecture, Infrastructure, Knight Architects
Alister KrattLandscape Architecture, Masterplanning, LDA
Cora Kwiatkowski - Co-ChairArchitecture, Infrastructure , Stride Treglown
Andrew Linfoot - Co-ChairLandscape Architecture, Infrastucture, Jacobs
John LoydEngineering - Building Services, Sustainability, Hoare Lea
Wendy MadenUrban Design, Planning, City of Bath
Simon PowerEcology, Engineering, Planning, Infrastructure, Mott MacDonald
Simon RichardsLandsacpe Architecture, Land Studio
Elfed RobertsUrban Design, Residential Development, Pobl
Phil RobertsArchitecture, Surveying, Sustainability, Consultant
Ben SibertBridges, Structures Civil Engineering, Arup
Craig SheachArchitect, PRP
Steve SmithUrban Design, Planning, Swansea Council
Steven SmithArchitecture, Urban Narrative
Amanda SpenceArchitecture, Research, Amanda Spence Architects
Lynne Sullivan OBEArchitecture, Sustainable By Design
Matt ThomasTransport Planning, SLR
Jonathan Vernon Smith - Co-ChairUrban Design, Architecture, Urban Design Box
Clare WildingStructural Engineering, ARUP
Angela WilliamsArchitecture, Consultant
Neil WilliamsonLandscape Architecture, NWAssociates
Richard WoodsArchitecture, Urban Fabric Architects