Hatch Opportunities

Hatch: DCFW’s network for fresh-thinking shapers of the built environment in Wales



Hatch is the Design Commission for Wales’ network for fresh-thinking shapers of the built environment in Wales

Our next event is…

Hatch Christmas Social

6-7.30pm Thursday 29th November 2018

Little Man Garage, Tudor Lane, Cardiff CF10 6AZ

Register here


Hatch aims to…

  • Be a voice for good design and make sure it’s heard by the right people
  • Raise awareness of the value of good, joined up design and planning, and the difference it can make to individuals and communities
  • Learn and improve our skills to become better designers, enabling us to raise the standard of design in the built environment in Wales and make better places which are more sustainable
  • Tackle the challenges and risks faced by talented designers in Wales together, bridging the gap between built environment disciplines
  • Demonstrate the value of innovative design processes and solutions
  • Raise design aspirations in Wales
  • Have fun in the process!

To meet its aims, Hatch will…

  • Proactively uphold the strategic aims of the Design Commission for Wales
  • Meet, talk and do things together to achieve our aims
  • Share ideas and information
  • Look for, create and share opportunities
  • Celebrate good design in Wales
  • Take an interest in the politics influencing design and the built environment
  • Connect with and inspire Wales’ future generation of designers

Download the Hatch Flyer to spread the word

Hatch Programme Part 1 will provide you with dates of upcoming events

Follow @HatchDCFW on Twitter

Want to get involved?

If you’d like to join Hatch, please download and fill in this Joining Form and send it back to us.

Hatch Joining Form

Hatch is open to all enthusiastic, open-minded and ambitious designers, planners, engineers and other shapers of the built environment in Wales.  Give us a call if you’d like to find out more.

Once registered, you will receive email updates about Hatch events and opportunities, and you will be added to the list of active Hatch participants on our website (with your permission)

Some Hatch events will have an attendance fee as indicated on the programme.  This is to help cover costs and will help us to bring in speakers and to visit places that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.  This will be kept to a minimum with most events costing just £5 and others will remain free.

The Design Commission invests its resources to facilitate Hatch, and we expect those who join to actively contribute their skills and ideas to the group.  (Those who have not contributed for a period six month will be removed from the website.)


The active Hatch network includes…

James Stroud, Project Designer, Loyn & Co Architects

John Lloyd, Lead Energy Engineer, Amber Energy

Emily Hall, Associate Architect, Hall + Bednarczyk Architects

Steve Coombs, Architect/Lecturer, Coombs Jones/Welsh School of Architecture

Kate Davis, Planning Student, Cardiff University

Lauren Philips, Urban Designer, The Urbanists

Wendy Maden, Design Research Assistant, Design Commission for Wales

Jamie Donegan, Urban Designer, The Urbanists

Michael Boyes, Architect, Hall + Bednarczyk

Mark Lawton, Landscape Architect, HLM

Emma Pearce, Urban Designer, Arup

Elan Wynne, Principal Architect, Stiwdiowen

Emma Price, Director, EMP Projects & Associates

Peter Trevitt, Peter Trevitt Consulting

Richard Williams, Veritii

Rob Chiat, Urban Designer, Arup

Claire Symons, Senior Landscape Architect, Stride Treglown

Jack Pugsley, Assistant Consultant Planning, Amec Foster Wheeler

Thomas Wynne, Associate Architect, UNIT Architects Limited

Lindsey Brown, Urban Designer

Eleanor Shelley, Architectural Assistant, Scott Brownrigg

Priit Jürimäe, Architectural Assistant, Scott Brownrigg

Efa Lois Thomas, Architectural Assistant, AustinSmith:Lord

Ruth Essex, Consultant & Creative Producer

Graham Findlay, Inclusive Design Consultant, Findlay Equality Services

Olympiada Kyritsi, Architect, Inspire Design

Adam Harris, Architectural Lead

Patrick Barry, Bridge Engineer, Arup

Karn Shah, Assistant Engineer, CH2M

Hatch Flyer

Infrastructure Reports

Mona Offshore Wind Project (Aug 23)

Press & Comment Uncategorized

Parc Pencrug and Maes y Farchnad, Llandeilo – DCfW Consultation Response

Press & Comment

Y Bryn Wind Farm – DCfW Consultation Response

Travel Board Uncategorized

WG reply to ATB feedback on Draft Active Travel Delivery Plan – June 23

Travel Board

Active Travel Board response to Draft Active Travel Delivery Plan June 23

Travel Board

Active Travel Board press release 26 June 2023

Comment Uncategorized

Rhyd y Car West – DCfW Consultation Response

Comment Uncategorized

Factory Road, Newport – DCfW Consultation Response

Comment Uncategorized

Technical Advice Note 15 – DCfW Consultation Response

Comment Uncategorized

Review of Wales’s Renewable Energy Targets – DCfW Consultation Response

Comment Press & Comment

Planning Policy Wales: Net Benefit for Biodiversity and Ecosystems’ Resilience

Reports Residential/housing

Brecon Lodge, Ffrwdgrech (May 23)


Street Markets and Pop-Ups

Ben Reynolds, Director of Urban Foundry

Our town centres’ social and commercial vitality is suffering from a perfect storm of disastrous car-oriented planning, poor public transport, weak active travel approaches, out-of-town retail, insufficient town centre residential populations, internet shopping, and an uncertain post-Covid world of hybrid working and spiralling costs. Empty shops and barren public spaces are two major symptoms of the malaise.

We need new ways of doing things and to rediscover some old ones too. The great Jane Jacobs characterised four key qualities of a ‘good town’: density, short perimeter blocks, varied buildings, and mixed-uses. I would add a fifth: quality public spaces. This article focuses on quick, fast, light, and (relatively) cheap measures that the Urban Foundry has taken to tackle two of these: mixed uses and public spaces.

Firstly, vibrant street markets are a fixture on the Continent, but something we have lost the habit of in the UK. A series of street markets have been created in Swansea Bay to activate public spaces that are otherwise car-dominated or under-utilised, creating temporary ‘people spaces’ and providing opportunities for small local artisan businesses.

Swansea Bay Street Markets social enterprise began with the award-winning Uplands Market in 2013 and now holds monthly markets across Swansea Bay at Marina, Mumbles, Port Talbot, and Pontardawe. Research by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David business school found:

  • 70% of market shoppers were only in the area for the market;
  • most spend at least £10 – £20 in local shops (in addition to spending at the market); and
  • the market improved perceptions of the area.

Secondly, PopUp Wales is bringing temporary life to empty shops, with similar impacts: improving footfall, dwell time, perceptions, and spending. Pop-up use can also make spaces more lettable in the longer term.

PopUp Wales matches temporary retail spaces with individuals, organisations, and businesses who want flexible, short-term, affordable space to trial ideas. Pilots took place in 2022 in Swansea and Bridgend, supported by their respective Councils, Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns fund, and (in Bridgend) UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund.

In Bridgend, PopUp Wales supported 30 small businesses and 20 voluntary organisations. In Swansea, 15 pop-up spaces have included civic and third-sector users, businesses, various arts projects, studio spaces, pop-up exhibitions, and installations.

Library of Things is a pop-up in Swansea run as a social enterprise to encourage borrowing to reduce the energy and resources to create rarely-used items and make expensive items affordable for more people.

Fresh Creative CIC exhibited their work in a pop-up in Swansea, which put them in front of audiences they could not normally access, and they are now seeking a longer-term city centre base as a result.

In a time of high vacancies for many towns and cities, we need as many tools as we can in the box for regeneration. Although it’s not a silver bullet, pop-up/meanwhile space has become far more prominent in the post-Covid era as a way of addressing our problems.

Why not start something up in your town?


Key Ingredients for Successful Markets and Pop-Ups

Understanding how your town or city works

Markets and pop-ups work well when we understand how and why people use space in urban areas and what will (and won’t) work where. They cannot be magically dropped in anywhere.

Buildings need to be in reasonable condition

Structurally sound and watertight buildings are needed for it to be manageable to make them useable, such as largely (basic) compliance works, simple welfare facilities, and cosmetic upgrades. It also helps if some modest capital funding is available to assist with these works – pop-up schemes are now eligible as a cost heading under the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns funding stream.

It has to be the right use for a short-term tenure

Pop-ups are not a free means of getting long-term leases. Pop-ups are short-term by nature, so plan for it being taken away again at relatively short notice, or be prepared to pay a commercial market rate for the space in the long run if you want to stay.

Some creative thinking

There is variation, and some are decidedly at the cheap and cheerful end of the spectrum, but there needs to be some creativity and thought to make spaces look good and work on low budgets and with short timescales. You need something that can be up and running quickly that will work.

There still needs to be some viability to them

Although it takes away rental costs, there are still some costs, notably utilities, perhaps staffing (though volunteers run some), business rates if applicable, and stock/marketing/insurance and similar.

Good relationship-building with landlords is essential

Pop-ups are not as well-understood in this part of the world as elsewhere. The landlord must play ball for them to be viable.

There needs to be understanding and ‘buy-in’ from the local authority

The local authority needs to ‘get’ what you are trying to achieve and to be supportive.


Re-Imagining High Streets

Alex Bugden, VUAP Project Manager, and Wendy Maden, Principal Urban Designer, Bath and North East Somerset Council

Our high streets have typically been places of the most diverse mix of uses and support a range of facilities and services that serve the wider community.  However, in recent years even these places have struggled to retain their diversity and quantum of uses. Over the past two years, Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Regeneration Team has worked with local stakeholders to deliver various projects to breathe new life into vacant shops and buildings in high streets across the district.

As part of a broader programme of high street interventions, including street furniture and greening, the Vacant Units Action Project delivers pilot projects within vacant shop properties to explore, re-imagine, and test alternative models or uses within the high street. By learning from these pilots, we wish to understand what the future of high streets could look like.

The project was launched in 2020 when vacancy rates in Bath City Centre had hit 30% on some streets. Initially, to address the cumulative impact of empty shops on the high street’s vitality, we worked with a collection of local arts groups, cultural stakeholders, landlords, and Council teams to take over the windows of vacant shops with vibrant and curious 3D art installations.

The project’s first phase included window animations, arts pilots, and immersive installations, all of which helped to understand the barriers to delivering meanwhile uses and enabled the evaluation of the impact of these initial pilots.

The second phase focused on activity designed to be a catalyst for high street regeneration, including four longer-term pilot projects across the district to develop and test ideas around future high streets:

Make Space, Keynsham: Refurbishment of a long-term empty ground floor property into a flexible and creative space offering affordable space for arts, cultural, and pop-up shop opportunities to enhance the local high street.

Made in Bath Pop-ups: Supporting local traders and makers to trial the use of high street retail space for short-term pop-ups, events, and new retail experiences, bringing online retailers, new businesses, and market traders into high street retail premises. We have hosted over thirty small local businesses and supported nine non-profit organisations through this project. 

Creative Twerton: This project is currently delivering a warm and welcoming arts space open to everyone, located in the heart of this high street. Adjacent to this meanwhile use is an artists’ residency space that builds on existing collaboration with Bath Spa University and a local arts organisation.

Unit 14, Midsomer Norton: Creating a hub for community-based and pilot activity on Midsomer Norton High Street, including community activities, a base for the high street cultural programme and Heritage Action Zone project, and a trial space for co-working, pop-ups, and other uses.

The future of high streets is an ever-evolving process. By using these hubs to accommodate a mix of activities, the projects’ success will be measured partly by whether they can create foundations to build on, expediting the change communities want to see on their high streets. It is an exciting opportunity for us to step up to the challenge.

Watch this video to find out more about the Vacant Units Action Project:


Delivering Mixed-Use Settlements

Ben Bolgar, Senior Director at The Prince’s Foundation

For over thirty years, The Prince’s Foundation has been promoting the delivery of mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable, and beautiful places over monocultural car-dependent housing estates. In all that time, however, the only really diverse and genuinely new mixed places in the UK are Poundbury in Dorchester and, hot on its heels, its bigger brother Nansledan in Cornwall.

Poundbury will be complete in five years and already has over 1,800 homes with 2,300 jobs in 310 businesses on site, with 50% of those start-ups and the majority by women. Those businesses and jobs do many positive things: they give work opportunities near homes, make it possible to get daily needs on foot, reduce car trips, build a strong sense of community, and make a vibrant, valuable community.

Poundbury, Dorchester

Nansledan is only a few hundred houses in, and already there is a vibrant section of high street emerging. The thriving high street has contributed to the house values going through the roof, meaning the place could be a victim of its own success.

Nansledan, Cornwall

So, why isn’t every landowner and developer doing it? The simple answer is that most of our new places in the UK are built by volume house builders who do what they say on the tin – build houses. Ask them to build something other than houses, and they are happy to earmark a piece of land for a school, a supermarket, and, if you’re lucky, a health centre, but their model doesn’t see value in non-residential uses, and so they simply don’t do it. Look at Sherford in Plymouth, planned by The Prince’s Foundation for 7,000 homes along similar lines to Nansledan, but now led by a consortium of volume housebuilders. With nearly a thousand houses built the only business on site is a coffee shop in a portacabin set up and owned by the residents.

It is the business model that drives this behaviour. Typically, a landowner will either be approached by a developer or appoint an agent to sell some of their land, and that agent will be incentivised by taking a percentage of the highest price they can get. Getting hold of land is so competitive that most housebuilders will overpay on the basis that they can eventually cram more houses in, dumb down the quality, and renege on commitments on affordable housing, mixed-use, and community infrastructure.

Alternatively, a landowner deploying a stewardship approach won’t sell their land outright but instead employ a consortium of SME builders to build out the site in partnership, putting in the community infrastructure as they go. For the smaller units, which are below business rates and therefore more affordable, the builder might keep them in their pension pots and expect a healthy return on their investment not just in terms of income but as an asset accruing in value over time. These spaces attract local entrepreneurs and makers with a passion who can afford to do what they love, making an interesting and diverse place. These local businesses add value to the housing, as people want to live there. That is why Poundbury contributes £100 million GVA annually, and Nansledan could sell double the number of houses it is building.

We need more landowners to follow the stewardship model and planners and councillors to ask for a better way of building.


Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life

Book Review by Max Hampton, Design Advisor at the Design Commission for Wales

The Placemaking Charter promotes places with a mix of uses and population density to support their social and economic life. Medium-density and mixed-use buildings are characteristic of traditional European towns and cities. Yet, this fine-grain, medium-rise building form, described as the ‘missing middle,’ is unusual in new development in the UK. David Sim, a Scottish architect based in Scandinavia, shows in Soft City how to design densely built environments at a human scale.

The Missing Middle (Sim/Island Press)

Soft City’s premise is that increasing the density of our towns and cities can help address the global challenges of climate change, congestion, and urbanisation. Increasing development density has a bad reputation in the UK and is associated with high-rise towers, small flats, and overcrowding. Sim acknowledges that greater density alone is not the answer, but when you add a diversity of building types and uses in the same place, you create the true urban quality of European towns and cities.

Aarhus, Denmark (Sim/Island Press)

The thesis of Soft City is Density x Diversity = Proximity. The idea is that the fusion of density and diversity increases the possibility of useful things, places, and people being closer to you. The book shows how potentially conflicting aspects of everyday existence can be brought together and connected to deliver better quality of life.

Soft City illustrates how the traditional urban building pattern of enclosed blocks, with independent, joined-up, and layered buildings, can accommodate density and diversity of uses while maintaining the human scale. Sim shows why this urban form, with its simple rules, has helped create some of the world’s most liveable towns and cities. Medium-rise blocks can combine the comfort and security of suburban living with the convenience and accessibility of urban life.

The Enclosed Block (Sim/Island Press)

The book includes examples from Scandinavia, the rest of Europe, Japan, the United States and Australia. I was interested to read how Melbourne uses clear and simple rules to enable denser, mixed-use development along and around existing public transport. This policy allows the city to accommodate population growth without expanding outwards and evolving over time, with densification taking place plot by plot.

Melbourne – Increasing density around existing infrastructure (Sim/Island Press)

There are good examples from Germany and Sweden of larger sites masterplanned by the local authority and subdivided into small plots. Different developers, with various architects, develop each plot. The result is a diverse mix of housing types and land uses in lively neighbourhoods with a strong sense of identity and community.

Vauban, Freiburg (Sim/Island Press)

Sim is not trying to ‘Scandify’ the world and recognises different countries have different people and cultures, climates and landscapes, politics and planning systems. However, he identifies we are all facing similar challenges that the urban design principles in this book can help solve.

I recommend Soft City to anyone interested in how dense and mixed-use developments can create sustainable and resilient communities with healthier and happier people. This beautifully illustrated book is full of ideas and examples that can support placemaking in Wales.


The role of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) in creating better places

When: Wednesday 24th May 2023, 2pm – 4pm

Where: Design Commission for Wales, 4th Flr, Cambrian Buildings, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff CF10 5FL

Booking: This is a free event but please secure your spot on Eventbrite.

Join us for an event to consider the design of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) in new development and regeneration in Wales. Designers, developers, engineers, and those involved in delivering new development, the event will examine:

  • How SuDS can reintegrate the landscape in urban areas.
  • How SuDS can complement good urban design.
  • Has the implementation of the SuDS legislation met the aspiration?
  • How a multi-disciplinary approach to SuDS can create better places.
  • How can the design, approval process, implementation and maintenance of SuDS be improved to contribute to better places.

The event will highlight good practice in the design of SuDS and there will be the opportunity for attendees to contribute to the discussions, identifying good practice and informing the future of SuDS requirements in Wales.

Speakers include:

  • Ian Titherington, Engineer, Sustainable Drainage Advisor for the Welsh Government
  • Simon Richards, Landscape Architect, Director of Land Studio, Design Panel Chair at the Design Commission for Wales
  • Lisa Sawyer, Engineer, Director of Land Studio
  • Chris Gentle, Urban Designer, Divisional Director at Roberts Limbrick

Please book using the following link – Eventbrite. Do not use the Book Now button.

Comment Press & Comment

Designing for Renewable Energy in Wales – Consultation on Draft Guidance Document

The Design Commission for Wales is undertaking a second engagement on the new draft guidance – Designing for Renewable Energy in Wales. The consultation opened on 24 April 2023, and the deadline to respond is 19 June 2023.

Please see our letter for more information.

To comment, please complete the questionnaire as per the format indicated in the consultation materials and send it by e-mail to

Thank you.

News Press & Comment Press Releases

Jen Heal Appointed Deputy Chief Executive

1st April 2023


 Design Advisor Jen Heal has been confirmed as the Deputy Chief Executive of the Design Commission for Wales.

A Chartered Town Planner with a background in planning and urban design in private and public sector practice, Jen first joined the Design Commission in 2014, devising and leading much of its training and client support programmes and co-chairing its national Design Review Service.  During her time at the Design Commission Jen has also served as a Commissioner for the South East Wales Transport Commission. She now leads the placemaking agenda for the Design Commission, advising on policy, supporting practice and leading the development of the Placemaking Wales Charter and guidance.

With significant professional experience in the private sector, Jen studied City & Regional Planning, has an MA in Urban Design from Cardiff University and is a fully accredited member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI).  In her previous roles, Jen led a diverse range of urban design, planning and regeneration projects for public, private and third sector clients; delivered design concepts, town centre strategies, environmental improvement schemes and complex planning applications as well as developing engagement and training programmes.

Commenting on the promotion, Chief Executive Carole-Anne Davies said: “Jen is an outstanding professional and valued colleague. She is a talented placemaking specialist and a passionate advocate for the importance of good design. Jen has the leadership capability required for this role and has long demonstrated her ability to engage with and support colleagues across sectors, in local authorities and the Welsh Government.

“Jen is particularly adept at equipping others with the knowledge and understanding of how to create better mixed-use communities with a sense of place in the context of change for existing settlements or new development. I am pleased to confirm Jen’s promotion as we come to the end of events which mark our 20th Anniversary and move forward to further accelerating positive change and creating the conditions for everyday excellence in design in the context of climate and nature emergencies. I’m delighted to have her by my side and I know she will thrive in the role and continue to strengthen our skilled and agile team. ”

Jen Heal said: “The value of design to Wales and the UK should not be underestimated. It is a major economic driver and enabler of social value, particularly as we work towards net zero. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to step-up and continue with the excellent work that we deliver as a team. It’s making a difference to communities the length and breadth of Wales and I’m proud of all that we do.”

As an expert body, the Design Commission for Wales was established by the National Assembly for Wales in 2002 to promote good design. With a remit spanning the whole of the built environment in Wales, the expert, multi-disciplinary team works with local planning authorities, investors, developers, communities and commissioning clients across Wales to capture the value of high quality design.

Mixed use Reports

Canolfen Lleu, Penygroes (March 23)


DCFW A Culture of Quality 2022


Reports Residential/housing

New Penn Inn and Fairwater Social Club, Cardiff – combined report (Nov 22)


Placemaking and the Value of Location – Dr Roisin Wilmott

Dr Roisin Wilmott, Director of RTPI Cymru.

We’re all familiar with the maxim ‘location, location, location’, but do we think about it beyond property and its value?  As planners we take the approach of the right building in the right location, the latter being paramount.

The right location is a big part of the answer to tackling the multiple short and long term challenges we all face, not just here in Wales but globally too, including the climate and biodiversity emergencies, the energy crisis, the cost of living crisis and the endemic problem of poverty.  The right location also affects the costs of running public services.  In many ways these are all interlinked issues. If we get the location right, we can go a long way to help mitigate and / or prevent the negative impacts. Importantly, we must avoid locking in future carbon commitments for generations to come through the location decisions we take now.

Location is captured by the popular 15 / 20 minute city concept, also referred to as the ‘walkable neighbourhood’.  This concept means that the services we need most days or every day can be reached either by walking or cycling (i.e. under our own steam) in a practical time. Through this we get some exercise, we are more likely to meet neighbours (developing community cohesion), reduce crime through increased surveillance and knowing our community, reduce pollution through less traffic, support local businesses and facilities, reduce the cost of travel and address travel-poverty.  Making room for quality green space in built areas also brings health and biodiversity benefits and if street furniture, particularly seating, is provided this improves the inclusivity of the area for wider groups including older people, or those with dementia and other conditions.

As well as increasing the focus on active travel, integrating public transport into developments must also be considered, to enable access to a choice of wider services and employment opportunities in a more sustainable and equitable manner.

We can build the most sustainable building but if it is not sited in the right location, it can instead be inherently unsustainable; we should not hide behind just one aspect but consider the whole project.  There are of course times when a house in the open countryside is in the right location and should be supported e.g. those supporting rural industries.

The ‘development plan’ is the primary vehicle for setting out location policy in Wales.  Set out in legislation, the development plan in Wales comprises Local Development Plans (LDPs) which are familiar to many, Strategic Development Plans (SDPs) were introduced by the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 but have not yet emerged, and Future Wales: the national plan 2040 (referred to in legislation as the National Development Framework).  These are aimed at setting the direction for development, including location, at different spatial levels: local, regional and national respectively.  These plans carry a great deal of responsibility in setting the framework for decisions on the location of development which genuinely meets the current and long term needs of Wales.


‘Location’, Townscape and Placemaking – Professor Wayne Forster

(Above illustration by Proctor Matthews from their publication ‘Identity and place – where do houses live’?)

Wayne Forster, Professor of Architecture and Deputy Head of School at the WSA.

Back in 1974 Gordon Cullen and David Gosling published their design for Maryculter, a new settlement located to the south west of Aberdeen within a natural amphitheatre of open rolling landscape, grazing land and gorse cover protected by pine forests and shelter belts. The design creates an unfolding townscape of residential and mixed-use villages – the Wynds, the Kaleyards, Burnside and Blaikiewell. The design for Kaleyards drew inspiration from the historic walled enclosures of the Shetland Islands which provide shelter and protection to crops grown under extreme conditions. In response clusters of new homes were proposed forming sheltered neighbourhood spaces at their heart, with houses orientated to shoulder the prevailing wind – a unique configuration designed to ‘produce a sense of identity and belonging’.[1]

In the design report Cullen observed: “People live in houses, but where do houses live? If they are homeless, then all we are left with is the typical endless, featureless suburbia“.

Could a return to the core principles of Townscape reinforce ways of placemaking and produce tangible results?

Reference to the work of the English architects and urban designers Proctor Matthews suggests the answer is a resounding yes. Both Stephen Proctor and Andrew Matthews can claim a direct lineage to Cullen through their tutor at Sheffield, David Gosling who worked with Cullen and wrote the only monograph. . In a recent presentation of their work to the Welsh School of Architecture given by Stephen Proctor the Cullen idea of ‘the place of houses’ is consistently framed within Cullen’s ideas and underlines the influence of Cullen on their work in particular the emphasis on establishing significant contemporary placemaking on schemes in England, Scotland and Ireland.

In 1974 Gordon Cullen and David Gosling published their design for Maryculter, a new settlement located to the south west of Aberdeen. Most new residential developments – both regeneration projects within towns and cities and those on the periphery of established urban centres – fail to establish a sense of place or a strong and coherent identity.

In his presentation Proctor explained that a primary and starting principle is to establish a bold coherent narrative of place: anchoring new developments in their immediate and wider, historical, social, cultural and physical contexts – the distillation of place. This narrative is always visual invariably established and represented through drawings sometimes in the form of diagrams and cartoons a la Cullen .

These principles for placemaking appear to be more designerly than the more process led ones set out in the DCFW government guide to placemaking .[2]

All this echoes Gordon Cullen from way back in 1955, Nairn’s collaborator in that series of Outrage articles from the architectural review and author of and master of townscape elevates the importance of visual planning and product over process. Cullen turned to what he called ‘the faculty of sight ‘, ‘for it is almost entirely through vision that the environment is apprehended’. [3]

In the introduction to Townscape Cullen urged that we have to rid ourselves of the thought that the excitement and drama that we seek can be born out of the scientific research and that we must turn to other values and other standards. Cullen turned to what he called ‘the faculty of sight ‘, for it is almost entirely through vision that the environment is apprehended. [4] This is followed by the establishment of a clear definition of neighbourhood boundaries and thresholds and the development of a clear spatial hierarchy of parks, streets,squares, lanes and mews.

This is all treated very seriously throughout the Proctor Matthews practice and takes time, curiosity, wisdom, imagination and is beautifully drawn out, to the degree that these early drawings, cartoons and other visuals are the ones that clients and developers constantly refer to in favour of more scenographic ‘finished’ CGi’s.



[1] Proctor & Matthews identity and place: where do

Architects houses live?

[2] Design Commisssion for Wales  Placemaking Guide 2020 p6

[3] Ian Nairn and others Architectural Review June 1955

[4] Gordon Cullen The Concise Townscape 1971 p8

Reports Residential/housing

Former Stadium Site, St Athan (Oct 22)

Health Reports

Health and Wellbeing Centre, Swansea (Sept 22)

Press & Comment

Designing Renewables in Wales Consultation

This engagement, on ‘Designing Renewables in Wales’ opened on 10th of August 2022.

The deadline to respond is the 7th October 2022.

Find out more in our letter here.

Please download and complete this questionnaire (where relevant to you) in the interactive pdf, and return as an attachment by email to

Reports Residential/housing

Fairwood Terrace, Gowerton (Aug 22)



DCFW – Reimagined


Reports Residential/housing

Plot D9b, SA1, Swansea (Aug 22)

Reports Residential/housing

Plot E7 & E8, SA1, Swansea (Aug 22)

Reports Residential/housing

Plot D5b, SA1, Swansea (Aug 22)


Placemaking and Rural Connectivity – moving people to places

Transport for Wales

Wales has many rural communities and some challenging geography which, along with budgetary constraints, has resulted in a reduction in bus services over the years, and increased reliance on cars to enable people to get to work, education, health appointments and all the other things that we must do in our daily lives.

Transport for Wales is working to improve transport solutions for rural areas in partnership with local and regional transport authorities as part of the Welsh Government’s wider bus transformation plans across the country.  This includes revising timetables, changing routes, improving connectivity, increasing frequencies, and simplifying fares and ticketing. We are at the beginning of a journey which will take some time to reach all areas of Wales.

A new type of service introduced in rural (and some urban) areas has been fflecsi, the demand responsive transport (DRT) service which now operates in 11 zones across Wales providing increased access to public transport in areas where services have been complex, limited access and had falling passenger numbers, or, in some cases, had not existed.  DRT is bookable public transport, which doesn’t run to a fixed route or timetable but is booked by passengers via an app or by phone, and aggregates those with similar journeys.

Each service is run according to the local requirements, for example in Conwy in North Wales the service runs from 6.30am to enable local hospitality workers to get into Betws-y-Coed in time for their 7.00am shift.  This same service also collects a group of ladies from surrounding villages every Tuesday – giving them time to catch up on the bus journey and helping combat social exclusion. In Pembrokeshire and on the Llyn Peninsula the service is popular with local residents, holidaymakers and walkers who use fflecsi when walking the Coastal Path.

Fflecsi is a bookable service, currently providing more than 25,000 rides per month. Passengers can book on the fflecsi app or by phone and TfW are also introducing third party booking in some locations to enable people to book the service if they don’t have access to a phone.  It is a different way of delivering a bus service that forms part of the overall public transport provision here in Wales, however despite the technology involved, it still the interaction with the driver that can make the service a success especially in the rural areas.

Fflecsi needs not necessarily be a bus, it could be a car or other vehicle, the technology provides lots of great data to enable better analysis of the service, identification of hotspots, potential for changes in operating hours to better serve customers and can even change the parameters for walking distance where there might be difficulties in access due to steep hills.

Fflecsi can link up to other local and regional bus services including the Traws Cymru routes, and link to trains, active travel and other forms of transport – it is part of the vision to improve access to services across the country and to drive behaviour change with the ultimate aim of having one network, one timetable and one ticket as outlined in the Welsh Government’s Bus Cymru plan.


Placemaking, Net Zero and Liveable Neighbourhoods

Jon Tricker, Placemaking Director PJA

In response to the urgent needs of climate change, the transport planning industry is developing new approaches for planning and implementing net zero carbon transport and placemaking solutions in new development and in existing neighbourhoods.

This thinking aligns with the Welsh Transport Strategy (2021) and associated modal strategies such as the Active Travel Act.  Together these moves, along with the general direction set out at COP26 define a carbon reduction journey to 2050, setting out how new green industries will influence the transport sector through hyper-localisation allowing more walking and cycling, and for longer trips, taking the bus or train more and increasingly driving electric vehicles.

Many practitioners are now adopting approaches, which draw on three main principles – Avoid, Shift and Improve.

Avoiding travel can be applied in new and existing places, and can be summarised as internalisation for new stand-alone development, and localisation for existing places and brown field development.

Shifting means more walking, cycling and micro mobility in local neighbourhoods and urban centres, and public transport remaining the mode of choice for medium and long journeys.

Improving is partly about the car or future forms of private transport, which are likely to remain popular, and driving electric cars in outer areas and for some inter-urban journeys will remain important.  However, other benefits can be realised with integration with new travel hubs at city gateways allowing transfer from electric cars to bus rapid transit or rail, so that cities can benefit from de-trafficked core areas.

For new development this means looking at house design and more adaptive approaches to parking.  For the local area, it about embedding more sustainable urban structure and mix of development to provide the services residents require within a short journey of their home, internalising many trips, and managing external private car trips, particularly at peak times and to key destinations where congestion is likely.  These ideas come together in the form of Liveable Neighbourhood principles where active travel solutions are combined with greening of urban realm to create better streets and more liveable neighbourhoods. These ideas may also be combined with new thinking in Mobility Hubs which bring together several transport facilities in a central neighbourhood location.

For existing places, this means optimising land use, retrofitting of walking and cycling infrastructure into local places and managing integration with public transport and the transition to fully electric vehicle fleets. This is not solely a transport solution, but requires buy in from local authorities and businesses to allow services and amenities to be located/relocated to serve a more localised trip pattern for day to day needs, thus helping to create genuine 10-minute neighbourhoods.

Bringing transport planning together with placemaking has never been so important and is demonstrated in many recent and emerging schemes, such as the Greener Grangetown Cardiff project which brings together SuDS, green infrastructure and walking and cycling improvements.  The success at Grangetown sets an important benchmark for neighbourhood improvement in the coming years.


Movement and Placemaking

Matt Thomas, Vectos

The rigid UK planning policy of the 20th century, based on the paradigm of “Predict and Provide”, has had a major influence on the shape and nature of our developments and communities.  That was to design infrastructure and our settlements purely for sufficient traffic capacity to meet demand during peak hours.

This peak hour traffic only represents 25% of the overall capacity of the infrastructure which requires substantially less capacity outside of peak periods.  This pessimistic and heavily weighted pro car approach, which ensures the convenience of the motorist during the peak hour, has shaped our society and disappointingly often, little or no thought or consideration is given to alternative modes or changes in technology.

If we are to reverse this traditionally long held view, we need to adopt a new approach to our thinking about mobility. Thankfully, there is a new approach that is being championed by forward thinking transport planners.  Instead of immediately looking to calculate a scenario of the worst car-based impact of the development and then attempting to mitigate by design.  The new approach is to concentrate all effort on what type of development are we looking to create an exciting and vibrant environment where people will want to live, work and play. This approach is being called “Vision and Validate”.

The provision of transport infrastructure, to support the “vision”, is of course necessary, but it should be based upon a hierarchy of movement. Walking and cycling and the creation of infrastructure to support them must be the priority backed up by public transport provision which is given priority over the motor car. Thought should also be given to how the demand for movement is changing in an increasingly technical and virtual world. It may be that highway infrastructure is replaced by digital infrastructure. The Covid pandemic has significantly transformed most people’s everyday lives, in terms of travel to work or online shopping or online learning.  We no longer need to put on a suit, or commute for an hour to an office 5 days per week. The barriers to mobility are being reduced and individuals are increasingly able to decide where and how they wish to live and to place greater emphasis on quality spaces, neighbourhood and local facilities. The design of housing layouts and the specification of individual properties is evolving to reflect changing working patterns, with provision for home working space, superfast broadband and other connectivity, bike storage and electrical home charging facilities are all being considered in the modern home.

A balance in the mix of land uses, supported by safe and attractive walking and cycling networks that connect to nearby local facilities is fundamental in bringing about the step change in people’s mindsets regarding where they can live, work and play. This approach is supported by legislation such as the Welsh Government policy on Active Travel (Wales) 2013, the Well Being of Future Generations (Wales ) 2015 Act and more recently Planning Policy Wales (2021 ). However, now is the time to act.  Time is of the essence.

The concept of a 15-minute town, or city is not new, but it is now essential to achieve our objective of creating attractive and desirable spaces in which to live, whilst at the same time, reducing our carbon footprint.

Other simple initiatives such as car clubs, help break the chain between car ownership and car use and can help increase density, when land for development is at a premium, by facilitating lower car parking ratios.

Mobility hubs, at varying degrees of scale, provide a choice of mobility options including:

  • Cycle hire
  • Ebikes
  • Bike doctor,
  • Scooter hire,
  • Public transport nodes,
  • Community concierge,
  • Amazon lockers.

Wherever possible, Mobility Hubs should also include ‘The Third Place’ i.e., somewhere to work remotely and maybe grab a coffee and all of this can be incorporated into a local centre for example.

The other significant challenge facing society is that of climate change, if the climate change challenges are to be met there is a need for substantial and wholesale changes to the way we currently live. Transport emissions represent around 25% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and a target of a 90% reduction in transport related greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 has been set by the EU. Small changes in our infrastructure design and the adoption of a new approach to placemaking will not alone achieve this ambitious target.

The Vision and Validate approach leading to more sustainable communities has therefore never been so important.  There are two major factors that influence the level of carbon emission for transport, particularly the motor car, and they are the distance travelled and the amount of carbon emitted per unit distance.

The first consideration should always be – do I really need to make this trip? Is there another way of achieving what needs to be done? If the trip cannot be undertaken by a non-polluting mode, then the next consideration is how the vehicle is powered   – could there be a switch to a more efficient fuel or electricity?

The key challenge of achieving significant reductions in transport related carbon can be assisted by aligning the transport planning and regional planning systems to ensure that development occurs in areas which are capable of facilitating the Sustainable Accessibility and Mobility Framework and which are 15-minute neighbourhoods providing convenient and cost-effective travel choice and a mix of local amenities.

It is only by such measures that we can break the habit of unconsciously and automatically reaching for the car keys.


Just a bit of chalk? Placemaking and readdressing the transport hierarchy.

Patrick Williams, Sustrans.

Llwybr Newydd (2021) outlines a vision of a Wales travelling more sustainably, with modal shift to encourage higher levels of walking and cycling, at the heart of the document. This is a significant commitment that will require a change in approach to how we develop transport proposals and more broadly, how we consider our streets in general.

Road safety figures paint a picture of inequity, with some of the most vulnerable in society, such as the young, being particularly prejudiced. In 2015, 40% of accidents involving children, happened during the school run. In response, we have taken to protecting our children by ferrying them back and forth in cars and thus reinforcing the dominance of motor vehicles on our streets. For a considerable number of years, Sustrans have worked within the schools setting, exploring approaches that engage communities and aim to address some of these inequities.

In September 2019, following a co-design process involving students, parents and local residents at St Davis’s R C Primary School in Newport, Sustrans trialled a number of interventions using colourful, planted water filled modules (Street Kit) and chalk. Workshops with the school and local residents had identified that congestion at school drop off and pick up times had resulted in a number of specific issues including; parents and children being forced onto narrow pavements and lack of crossings.

As part of the development process, Artificial Intelligence (AI) cameras had been used to capture a number of behaviours within the street, including traffic speeds and volumes, crossing behaviour, desire lines and interactions such as yield rates on the road in front of the school.

The street outside the school was closed to vehicles during an afternoon and with the help of the school and local residents, areas of the carriageway around the school were reclaimed using water filled planters and a new crossing was created using chalk markings. The road was reopened and the interventions were left in place for a number of days. AI cameras were used to record changes in behaviour.

The results threw up some interesting findings. The number of cars slowing or stopping (yielding) to allow parents and children to cross at the new chalked crossing location increased by 63% during the days monitored. More striking however, was the change in traffic speeds witnessed following the trial, with speeds reducing by around a third from that prior to the installation.

The results of this trial perhaps don’t hold up against rigorous scrutiny, for example, how would behaviours revert over time? However, demonstrating that using materials such as chalk to ‘tweak’ the sense of place and change behaviours, merits some exploration.

Sustrans have now carried out a number of research projects considering and measuring the impact of light touch and similar Tactical Urbanism type interventions. The findings of these projects have evidenced a range of outcomes, including the reduced impact of vehicles, and pedestrian behaviours that indicate higher levels of empowerment with their streets. So the question is, ‘what roles can a piece of chalk have in changing our public realm for the better’?


Discussion Piece – Designing for the Transport Hierarchy

This is a discussion piece, providing ideas and prompts which we would like to hear your feedback on.

This edition of the newsletter focuses on the Placemaking Wales Charter principle of ‘Movement’, which is defined in the Charter as follows: ‘Walking, cycling and public transport are prioritised to provide a choice of transport modes and avoid dependence on private vehicles. Well designed and safe active travel routes connect to the wider active travel and public transport network, and public transport stations and stops are positively integrated.’ Designing for movement also touches on the ‘Public Realm’ principle, which is defined in the Charter as follows: ‘Streets and public spaces are well-defined, welcoming, safe and inclusive with a distinct identity. They are designed to be robust and adaptable with landscape, green infrastructure and sustainable drainage well-integrated. They are well connected to existing places and promote opportunities for social interaction and a range of activities for all people.’

Walking, cycling and public transport are prioritised in Llwybr Newydd, the Wales Transport Strategy, which sets out a Sustainable Transport Hierarchy. This hierarchy contains, in order of priority: Walking and Cycling, Public Transport, Ultra-low Emissions Vehicles, and then Other Private Motor Vehicles. The hierarchy is also embedded in Planning Policy Wales 11 (PPW11) which states that ‘it is Welsh Government policy to require the use of a sustainable transport hierarchy in relation to new development, which prioritises walking, cycling and public transport ahead of the private motor vehicles’.

But how would the design of streets and spaces need to be approached differently if this hierarchy was to be truly reflected in all new developments, and what would our streets and spaces look like?



If pedestrians and cyclists were prioritised, new developments would consider, at the site selection stage, whether likely active travel routes to local schools (both primary and secondary, and Welsh-medium, dual-stream and English-medium), local nurseries, local village centres, and local shops, pubs and restaurants can be accessed, and used safely. Likely active travel routes would have safe pavements and cycling routes, and this would be prioritised, in order to reduce dependence on cars from the outset.

Pavements would prioritise making pedestrians feel safe, in relation to motor vehicles, cyclists, other people, and crime. Pavements would prioritise pedestrian comfort – pavements would have passing space for two wheelchairs, and, in appropriate areas, they would allow enough room for cafes and restaurants to have adequate outdoor dining space without negatively impacting the amount of space given to pedestrians.

At signalised junctions pedestrians would be prioritised by reducing wait times, along with cyclists and buses.

Continuous pavements across side streets would be designed into new development as standard and retrofitted in existing places.

Streets would have frequent crossing points for pedestrians to cross safely.

If pedestrians safety and comfort are to be prioritised, where appropriate streets would incorporate street furniture and greenery, as green streets feel cooler on hot days, and provide visual interest and a connection to the changing seasons. Pavements would be regularly cleaned and maintained, with regular refuse collection, and pavements would contain clean and well-maintained seating and rest areas at regular intervals.



Cycle paths would be connected, cohesive, and clearly marked out. Junctions would prioritise cyclists, pedestrians and buses, and cycle paths would be the easiest way to get from A to B, where possible. This would mean rerouting cycle paths to be the most direct routes.

Creating pleasant routes would be considered at the earliest design stage of new developments. This could include street trees near the cycle routes in order to keep cycle routes cooler on hot days, or easily accessible and clearly marked facilities including WCs and water refill stations alongside cycle routes.

Cycle paths would be direct, and maps of the cycle network would be readily available on the internet.

Cycle paths would allow enough room for comfortable turns. Barriers would be spaced with enough distance from one another for cyclists to be able to comfortably cycle between them. Like pavements, cycle routes would be clean and well maintained, without litter. They would also feel safe, both from motor vehicles, and perceived safety around crime.


Public Transport

Public transport would be one of the easiest ways to access and get across towns and cities, with regular and direct services. The challenges to delivering this are systemic, and relate to wider transport planning and funding, but in order for places in Wales would be well-connected via bus, train, or tram, these issues would need to be addressed.

Longer bus stops could aid with faster passenger boarding.

If the transport hierarchy was followed, new developments would coordinated with local bus and other public transport companies to ensure a frequent service to the development is in place prior to the first people moving into the site, in order for bus and public transport usage to become an ingrained part of living in the development.

In urban areas, existing bus infrastructure would be improved in order for cross-city bus services to more closely resemble car driving times. This could be aided by junctions and traffic signals prioritising buses over private motor vehicles. Banning cars or reducing the number of car lanes from key roads could also make bus journeys quicker for bus passengers.


Ultra-low emissions vehicles

The necessary infrastructure for charging and maintaining these vehicles would be designed in at the outset. If electric vehicle ownership is to drastically increase over the next few years, the existing power infrastructure in certain areas may not currently be equipped to deal with the level of demand of charging the vehicles, therefore it is important that this capacity for vehicle charging is designed in at the outset.

EV charging would be easier, cheaper, and more convenient than refuelling a fossil fuel car, in order to encourage modal shift, regardless of where you live.


Other Private Motor Vehicles

Car sharing, of both ultra-low emissions vehicles and other private motor vehicles, would be designed into and become an inherent part of the business plan for new developments.

Private vehicles would be accommodated to provide choice and provision for those who need it, but speed limits in built-up areas could be reduced to the average walking speed. Places would be easily accessible by safe footpaths, cycle routes and public transport so that not everybody needs a car and therefore Cars would not dominate the design of places.



What changes have you implemented to address the sustainable transport hierarchy?

Are there any case studies that you think have been particularly successful in implementing strategies that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists?

What barriers are in place that stop us from being able to design following the transport hierarchy?

Please let us know by tweeting @designcfw or emailing us

Comment Press & Comment

Ystyr Enwau Lleoedd: The Importance of Welsh Language Place names in a Changing Climate

One of the six elements of the Placemaking Wales charter is ‘Identity’. A vibrant language and cultural richness are also cornerstones of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. Many Welsh place names, whether ancient or modern, are readily perceived by their meaning, and their meanings can still be understood in modern Welsh. But how do they signal ‘identity’ and could a place’s identity be affected by a changing climate?

Welsh-language place names often tell us about the landscape of the place, as well as its location, history, and heritage. Name is an integral part of its identity. With the effects of climate change threatening to shape the future of the Welsh landscape, it is more important than ever that we cherish the meaning of these names. When the climate changes, the landscape changes – land that has been shaped, known, and understood for generations. As such, without significant action, our place names could become like headstones, inscriptions only of what once was.

Aberteifi, Abergwyngregyn, Aberystwyth, Aberarth, Abertawe, Aberdaugleddau, are located near the coast, with ‘Aber’ often meaning the confluence of two bodies of water. A changing landscape brought about by climate change would mean that these names are no longer descriptive.

Places with names such as Glanyfferi, Glanyrafon, Glan-y-wern, and Glan-y-gors, with ‘Glan’ often indicating a location near a body of water, could have their landscapes altered and shaped by the changing tides and flooding. Traeth is another word that appears in Welsh place names, meaning ‘beach’. Pentraeth, Traeth Mawr, Trefdraeth and Traeth Bach all feature this element.

Cors Fochno, Cors Caron, Cors Ddyga, and Glan y gors all feature the word ‘cors’, which refers to a bogland. With industrial peat excavation as well as burning affecting bogland, it is of key importance that these landscapes are protected, recognised for their importance, and celebrated. ‘Gwern’ refers to the alder-tree, which grows on damp land and in bogland, and features in names such as Gwernydomen, Gwernymynydd, Glanywern, and Penywern.

Landscape and language are filled with clues that can tell us about the history of an area, and the history of people and communities across Wales. ‘Ynys’ means land surrounded by water, and features in island names such as Ynys Llanddwyn, but also in mainland areas, such as Ynyslas near Aberystwyth.

Morfa refers to saltmarsh or moorland, and features in place names such as Tremorfa, Morfa Nefyn, Morfa Bach, Penmorfa, and Morfa Harlech. These landscapes could be greatly changed due to the use of pesticides and fertilizers on surrounding farmland, sea level rise, and pollution in rivers. If these places are transformed, can they still be marshlands?

Many elements of Welsh place names tell us about their landscape and location, such as Mign, Tywyn, Trwyn, Pwll, Rhyd, Penrhyn, Sarn, Ystum, Cildraeth, Gwastad, Isel and Gwaelod – these are often commonly understood even among those who do not speak Welsh fluently.  They are meaningful – they bind those of us who identify as Welsh in a shared culture.

It is imperative that these place names are acknowledged and celebrated. Places and place names don’t exist in a vacuum: they are the product of action and interpretation. Whether they are recent or ancient, someone’s way of life has shaped that place, and someone looked at the landscape and decided to name it according to their understanding of it. That shaping and those names transform land into place.

The Welsh landscape is still rich with these names. Seek them out, discover their meaning, connect with the past that shaped them – and the land will speak.

by Efa Lois

Press Releases

Design Council Launches Landmark Design Economy Report

Design Council Launches Landmark Design Economy Report

Press & Comment Press Releases

Global rail test and innovation hub on track for arrival in 2024 as work starts on new Global Centre of Rail Excellence

Global rail test and innovation hub on track for arrival in 2024 as work starts on new Global Centre of Rail Excellence


Case Study: Maindee Triangle, Newport

Ruth Essex, of Maindee Unlimited, tells us the placemaking story behind the development in Maindee, Newport


Location: The Triangle, Chepstow Road, Maindee, Newport

Local Authority: Newport City Council

Client: Maindee Unlimited

Design team: KHBT Ltd

Date of completion: June 2022 TBC

Contract value: £300K

Site area: 102 m sq

Funding source:        Welsh Government, National Lottery, Newport City Council, Natural Resources Wales


The Challenge

The Triangle started with a challenge: how could the community of Maindee, an inner-city neighbourhood in Newport, reopen and maintain essential public toilet services?

The closure of these toilets in 2017 had been a huge blow for shoppers and traders in the local shopping centre, and to people living nearby. It deepened inequality – disadvantaging the people who rely on public toilets – those of us with disabilities, those of us with bowel and bladder conditions, those of us without a home, and those of us who are elderly or have young children – we could all be affected.

The loss of the toilets was leading to anti-social behaviour around the building.

The Maindee Triangle development essentially began as a response to the simple need to retain a public toilet, but grew into a larger asset-transfer, renovation and landscaping project.

The development is still live and due to be opened in June 2022.


People and Community

This Case Study will focus on how the local community has been involved in the evolution of the site.

Mainee Unlimited is a charity that was set up by local residents and organisations in the Maindee area following the reopening of the local library in 2015. Exploring the potential of the site together as a community and the need for active public engagement is central to the ethos of the charity.

The toilet block, and the surrounding public space sit opposite the library, and were both in obvious need of investment and improvement. In an area starved of greenery and public open space, it was a rare opportunity to increase amenity and improve well-being.

The project gained momentum through funding and support from the Arts Council Wales scheme Ideas: People: Places. This funding enabled a creative process – encouraging people to understand the site and reimagine its future.

The funding also enabled Maindee Unlimited to begin to work with KHBT architects to further develop design ideas. Their design process focused on an archaeological approach – excavating the story of the site and valuing its components.

The role of creativity was key in re-engaging local people with a site which had suffered long-term degeneration and was impacted by deep set negative perceptions associated with street drinking and drug taking. Artists were commissioned to create events and projects on the site, in order to develop positive associations, new memories of the space and expand the perception of what is possible.

One of these events was ‘Inviting the Neighbours to Paint’ curated by performers Mr and Mrs Clarke. The space was turned into an outdoor community art room for a week, and photographer Dafydd Williams turned a toilet cubicle into a camera obscura and took portraits of local residents in the garden. A range of community events took place in the Triangle to test uses such as an outdoor market.

Maindee Unlimited also hosted a community seminar ‘Toilets, Public Space and Social Justice’. This was an opportunity for local residents and agencies to meet and discuss with world leading public toilet experts and academics such as Clara Greed from the University of the West of England, Jo-Anne Bichard from Royal Society of the Arts and Charles Musselwhite of Swansea University. This provided the space for learning and debate, and to consider the politics of public space. It also provided information regarding the implications of communities having to run public facilities like public toilets.

These activities alongside the design work of KHBT galvanised imagination and momentum which eventually led to an asset transfer of the site from Newport City Council to Maindee Unlimited on a 99 year lease.

Funding was secured from the Welsh Government and the National Lottery in order to create a fully renovated and landscaped community café, community garden and public toilet.

Throughout the development phase, a project manager was contracted in order to maintain the public engagement, including facilitating events and actions.

Plywood hoarding, used as a site boundary, was turned into an art wall and community notice board in order to engage the local community. An event was held which turned the street adjacent to the site into a play street, following the principles of Playing Out, and supported by Play Wales.

Additionally, the tender brief and selection process for a café operator prioritised the role of the café in actively engaging the local community – including a desire to collaborate on future play streets events to periodically extend to the public garden into the street.

In the future, Greening Maindee, the community gardening group, hopes to involve local people in the planting of the garden, with the view that gradually local residents will become increasingly involved in the day to day running of the green space.

The Triangle will be opening in summer 2022, after a long period of development.

It has been initiated by, driven by, and co-designed by members of the local community, and is controlled by a community organisation. This has required a huge effort from volunteers and trustees of Maindee Unlimited.



Placemaking, Communities and Nature

Natural Resources Wales

Nature & Us is a year-long project to involve the people of Wales in a national conversation about the future of our natural environment. The project, hosted by NRW, is supported by Welsh Government, and the Future Generations Commissioner, and the results will be available for the whole of Wales.

The aim is to develop a shared vision for the natural environment in 2030, 2050, and the pathways needed to get there – in particular, considering the way our actions impact on the natural environment, how society’s relationship with nature needs to change, and to collate views on what we all need to do now, and over the next 30 years.

The project launched in February and uses online engagement tools to encourage people to share their views for example, by completing surveys, joining interactive webinars, attending workshops and taking part in discussion groups. There are resources for groups to download so that they can host their own conversation with their friends or community networks. Two writers in residence have been commissioned to capture the emotive side of the conversation through poetry and prose.

Once the initial involvement period closes at the end of April, the views gathered will be analysed through a collaborative process – working across sectors to identify common themes, shared values, and more contested issues. NRW is keen to use deliberative processes to better understand the beliefs and motivations that sit behind the issues that people have raised. The draft vision will then be drawn together through a deliberative process.

Landscape has always played a key role in deliberative processes about places and place-making. One of the questions we pose is “What future do you want for our natural environment?” It will be interesting to see how many people respond by describing landscape features, and the physical environment around them.

People can articulate the characteristics of landscape that are special to them, without always knowing the socio-economic processes that enable that landscape to be maintained, or that shape landscape change over the years. We like the patchwork of fields. We feel connected to the mountains. We love the escapism of the bleak moorland. The challenge for Nature and Us is to move beyond the scenery and to make the connections with the everyday – the food we buy and eat, the way we travel, our general consumption of energy and goods.

To do this Nature and Us uses future scenarios in its workshop and webinar sessions. Building on and updating the National Ecosystem Assessment work – this is a great way to show how the choices we make today could have very different outcomes on our future landscape, our natural environment and also the way we live. Those choices are not necessarily in the hands of government and government bodies alone – society has a massive role to play in tackling the nature and climate emergencies.

The hope for the Vision itself is that it becomes a dynamic, long-term reminder of what we all want to achieve working together, and whether we are on course to achieve it. It has the potential to lay the foundations for future policy making for environmental, economic, social and cultural well-being. The national conversation that sits behind it will continue long after the survey closes. And that is the real point of this – that by extending our reach we collectively understand the implications of the climate and nature emergencies and how our response to it may affect different communities in different ways. Nature and Us will create a platform that helps us all take joint action, learn and adapt.

To take part in the national conversation go to:


Placemaking, Communities and the Planning Process

James Davies, Chief Executive at Planning Aid Wales.

As an organisation dedicated to community involvement in the planning process, Planning Aid Wales wholeheartedly welcomed People and Community as one of the six pillars of the Placemaking Charter. For us, working with rather than for communities is key.

Whilst straightforward, delivering meaningful community involvement is not always easy.  In planning, community consultation and engagement is delivered as a statutory requirement, but the views of local communities (even when relevant) can be eclipsed by the competing priorities of different actors responsible for managing and delivering development. Community involvement takes time, and time and resources are increasingly limited.

Some of the key challenges we encounter include:

Awareness. Planners often hear from people who have a lot to say, but the vast majority (including the hard to reach) say nothing at all. Many are unaware or underestimate the importance of the Local Development Plan (LDP), which when adopted, informs all subsequent planning application decisions.

Apathy. Even where people are aware, there is disillusionment and in some cases distrust in the planning process. This has been created in some instances by a negative feedback loop, where past experiences sour future involvement.

Over-emphasis on process, particularly when it comes to involvement activity itself. Methods used are few, feedback to participants is often limited, and measures of success (if evaluated) often focus on reach rather than quality or outcome.

One element of the planning process that can overcome these challenges is the production of Place Plans. Place Plans are documents produced by communities that can be adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance (that is, supplementary to the LDP) and can influence planning application decisions thereafter.

Planning Aid Wales has worked with communities where the production of a Place Plan has brought a range of benefits, not least the creation of a planning document that can be implemented and championed by the community.

Place Plan production can facilitate greater community awareness of planning and foster collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders.  It can also help communities come together to deliver positive change to their places; the evidence gathered to produce the Newtown & Llanllwchaiarn Place Plan has already been used to secure over £1million in project funding for the area.

The Newtown & Llanllwchaiarn Place Plan has also identified (and evidenced) community priorities for future Local Development Plan production. For us, this is a first step to creating a positive feedback loop which could deliver great placemaking in planning.



Placemaking at the Little Shed, Tonypandy

Rhianydd Jenkins​, Director of Development and Regeneration at RHA.

Over the past few years, we have been preparing and planning, really questioning ourselves as to how we can help lead on regenerating the town of Tonypandy. Previously described as ‘Britain’s Worst High St’ we have always had a presence in the town, with our office space located just off the main shopping street, we felt really connected within the community and knew we had to play our part as an anchor organization in Tonypandy to shape its future, and work with the local community to build back to what was once a thriving market town.

Despite the previous negative press, there is positivity to be seen, with new businesses opening and footfall increasing following de pedestrianization on the High St, we definitely feel that things are on the up.

We have opted for a 360 approach to ensure our regeneration plans tackle social, economic, and environmental challenges that are evident in the town today. Our plans will see the largest investment in the town for decades, with aspiration that our work and partnerships will be a catalyst to unlock then potential of Tonypandy creating a place that our future generations will be proud of.

Alongside large-scale capital projects, we are working with the residential and business community to ensure we are able to offer spaces that our community needs, for social connection, training, upskilling and a range of other services that will help tackle social isolation, food poverty and help signpost our tenants and the wider community to a wider support network.

A great example of how we are achieving this, is by repurposing our old office which had been vacant for some time to create ‘The Little Shed’. Sitting directly on the main shopping street in Tonypandy we have worked with a variety of partners and utilized community benefit clauses in wider procurement contracts to refurbish our old space and create a vibrant and accessible space for the community.

A key driver for us when delivering this project was to ensure training and upskilling was embedded in delivery of the project, to achieve this we worked with Black Sheep (part of the ARC Training Group) to offer these opportunities. The Black Sheep project supports young people to learn skills for work in construction. They’ve put their learning to good use in the Little Shed though renovation and creating a beautiful wooden feature wall as well as talking with designers on how the space should look. Thirty eight young people from Maes Gwyn and Ferndale Community School have worked on the Little Shed and these amazing young people have all completed Level 1 in Health and Safety in construction, Level 1 in Asbestos Awareness and Level 2 in Manual Handling. A real success for RHA Wales in terms of providing much more than a ‘building’, but creating a place for people in our communities, with people from our local community, that’s the difference with our approach, it’s the engagement and involvement that sits above any capital project or works.

The Little Shed will become home to our food parcel project Grub Hub, as well as offering a community fridge scheme, digital skills support, a Repair Café and our health and wellbeing sessions, available for tenants and the community to use when it opens in the Spring of 2022.


Placemaking Wales – People & Communities Newsletter – Community Initiatives around Wales

There are many grassroots community initiatives around Wales. Here are some links for you to read about them:


Providing Community Services

Taibach, Port Talbot ‘Taibach Community Library is a volunteer run community library based in Taibach, Port Talbot. In 2014, the local community stepped in when the library was threatened with closure due to local authority cuts, and formed the Taibach Community Library charity.’
More information here:

The Arches, Rhayader:  ‘The Arches’ (Rhayader & District Community Support) is an independent Charity set up in 1985 to provide community services for all residents in the postcode area of LD6, particularly in the advancement of education, the furtherance of health and the relief of poverty, distress and sickness.’ They are based in the former post office, which has been converted into a ‘community hub’, and they also own ‘ARCHIE, the community minibus and CARYS the wheelchair accessible car.’
More information here:

Cletwr Café and Shop: ‘Cletwr is a not-for-profit organisation owned and run by the community. It was set up to bring the community together to safeguard vital facilities and services in this rural area. The building also has a Welsh language library, and displays art from local artists.’
More information here:


Celebrating local heritage and history:

Plas Carmel, Aberdaron, Gwynedd – ‘A community project to restore and revive Capel Carmel and the old shop in Anelog, Siop Plas. Their goal is to make sensitive use of the chapel, house, shop and garden – creating a sustainable heritage and cultural site that breathes new life into this rural corner of Llŷn.’
More information here:

Tafarn y Plu, Llanystumdwy, Gwynedd‘When the 200 year old pub in Llanystumdwy was put up for sale in 2015, the local community stepped in. Menter y Plu, a community enterprise, crowdfunded in order to purchase the pub. Tafarn y Plu is now a community pub, which also provides community services.’
More information here:


Boosting Biodiversity:

Bwyd Bendigedig Port / Porthmadog Incredible Edible: ‘What is now known as Incredible Edible Porthmadog was founded in 2016 by Lizzie Wynn and Charissa Buhler. It came about when Lizzie spotted the slightly unkempt raised beds outside Porthmadog Leisure Centre and made enquiries as to whether a local group could take them over and tend them.’
More information here:

Gurnos Men’s Project’s Community Garden, Merthyr Tydfil: ‘The multi award winning Gurnos Men’s Project was established in 2014 as part of the Communities first programme. The project works primarily with unemployed males to deliver environmental activities in local communities.’
More information here:

Swansea Canal Society‘The Swansea Canal Society was established in 1981 aiming to restore and maintain the derelict canal – making it navigable again and improving its environs for the benefit of education, recreation and biodiversity.’
More information here: +

Clydach Community Garden – ‘Originally set up with the help of the local GP cluster’s social prescribing project, Clydach Community Garden have transformed the site from derelict wasteland into a thriving garden in the heart of the village.’
More information here: +

Knucklas Castle Community Land Project, PowysKnucklas Castle Community Land Project is a community land trust that looks after about 21 acres of land in the village of Knucklas, in Powys, which includes two fields of about 4.5 acres together that provide about 35 allotments and an orchard for local people.’
More information here:

Llannerch-y-medd Station Community Garden, Anglesey In their words, ‘This is an exciting project to improve a derelict site and create a Community Garden for Llannerch-y-medd. Get involved, have fun, meet people, and help create something for the community.’
More information here:

Llyn Parc Mawr Community Woodland‘In 2014 over 80 people living in the Newborough and district area held a meeting to discuss the possibility of the community being involved with the management of Newborough Forest.’ The result was a management agreement for 50 acres of forest.’
More information here:


Connecting Communities:

Dryslwyn Community shop, Carmarthenshire – ‘Founded in 2009, Dryslwyn Community Shop and Post Office has operated as a highly successful volunteer-led, not-for-profit community enterprise, which has proved invaluable to a scattered population remote from basic services’
More information here:

Digital Bench, Rhydyfelin Youth Club, Pontypridd: ‘Renew Wales and Rhydyfelin Youth Club worked together on an exciting and innovative idea – the members of the youth club had the idea to create a bench that could be used to give homeless people shelter and would help to keep people connected.’
More information here: +


Public/cultural Reports

Police Station Abergavenny and Monmouthshire (March 22)

Comment Press & Comment

DCFW Celebrates International Women’s Day 2022 – Professor Juliet Davis

Our colleague Professor Juliet Davis shares her thoughts today to mark International Women’s Day and help #breakthebias #IWD #IWD2022

Professor Juliet Davis

Years ago, I was lucky to be able to go on a site visit to a well-known public building in London when it was still a construction site. The first thing I had to do at the start of the visit was pick up a hard hat and suitable footwear at the contractor’s office. One of the foremen was tasked with handing out boots of suitable size to the visitors. When he came along to me, he worried that he didn’t have boots small enough. I stood before him, the top of his head level with the bridge of my nose. “What size do you take?”, he asked, nicely enough. “Size 10, EU 45”, I said. I’m more than six feet tall; it’s not surprising.

This capacity to hold in place a stereotypic image even when confronted with evidence that clearly defies it is a kind of bias. This, of course, is just an amusing story, but it illustrates a serious and often forgotten fact – that what the eye apparently sees is not necessarily what is, and that perception of another is always developed in a social context. As John Berger argues, different ‘ways of seeing’ are possible. Social and physiological factors meld together to form durable images, preconceptions, and expectations of other people.

Seeing and visualising people and places are core activities of architects and, hence of architectural education. Designers learn early on to observe people’s interactions and uses of everyday spaces, and to situate people within the places they imagine. Do we teach them enough about who they see and how, about how preconceptions might shape their analyses? About how the frame of a picture can include and exclude? About the assumptions regarding people, roles and potentials that architectural plans and renderings can contain?

To commit to addressing bias in an architecture school is to recognise a multifaceted project, an opportunity encompassing new approaches to design history, reworkings of old pedagogical forms such as the ‘crit’ and the transformation of studio cultures leading to long working hours. But, for me, tackling seeing and perceptions is also vital if the young architects of today are not to perpetuate injustices rooted in bias, through tomorrow’s built environment, limiting the opportunities of girls and women at different stages of life and from different cultural backgrounds, to navigate public spaces comfortably and safely, and to develop and realise their potential in the work place.

As my opening story suggests, tackling issues of seeing is an urgent task across the building industry given the potential for stereotypes to affect far more than a choice of boots, casting doubt over women’s professional knowledge and competence, and shaping their capabilities for fulfilment in practice. Schools have a role to play in this too as they prepare women for careers in design practice and engage with professional bodies. As the first woman head of the Welsh School of Architecture, I am committed to all facets of the project.


Professor Juliet Davis is the Head of the Welsh School of Architecture.

Comment Press & Comment

DCFW Celebrates International Women’s Day 2022 – Cora Kwiatkowski

Our colleague Cora Kwiatkowski shares her thoughts today to mark International Women’s Day and help #breakthebias #IWD #IWD2022


Cora Kwiatkowski

The construction industry is without doubt high-pressured with a lot at stake – programme, budget – and ultimately the success of places and spaces that we create for people for years to come. Projects become more and more complex with bigger teams involved. We therefore need to make a lot of decisions quickly – and this is where our brains have a natural tendency to simplify information which not only applies to our work but the people we work with. Many behaviours and attitudes arise from, are influenced by and depend on mental shortcuts and categorising people into stereotypes without even realising it.

Bias is everywhere: gender, age, origin, accent – even height and beauty. We all need to keep an open mind and check ourselves to step back from preconceptions, even if it takes more effort.

Although it is now more widely acknowledged and better understood, our industry still has a long way to go when it comes to bias. Perceptions are very hard to shift. Recognising achievements and respecting everyone for their contribution and personality in this mostly white middle-aged male dominated industry will help to change the status quo – it should become normal to see women and people of colour in strategic roles, leading companies as well as high-profile projects, bringing the industry forward as a whole. And when we meet them, let’s lift them up together and make them even more visible.

Looking at my own work, I couldn’t have succeeded alone in any of the amazing projects I designed, it needed the support of a whole team to make it all happen based on mutual respect, seeing the ‘real person’ rather than the stereotype, communication and teamwork – valuing everyone’s contribution. Creating long-term relationships and a network of support not only makes projects more fun but enables honest conversations so potential obstacles can be overcome more easily. It feels definitely easier to do that in a multi-facetted environment such as higher education where there is already more diversity among designers, clients and end users alike.

Single perspectives don’t give rise to innovation. One person doesn’t have all the answers. Not all of us think the same way. Different perspectives and ideas accelerate creative problem solving. Let’s not be lazy and narrow in our thoughts but open and inclusive so that we all benefit!

Cora Kwiatkowski is a Divisional Director at Stride Treglown and a DCFW Commissioner.

Comment Press & Comment

DCFW Celebrates International Women’s Day 2022 – Chithra Marsh

Our colleague Chithra Marsh shares her thoughts today to mark International Women’s Day and help #breakthebias #IWD #IWD2022


Chithra Marsh


Hi Mum,

It’s been a long time!

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately – about the lessons you taught me through your many stories, repeated over and over again, and how you guided me to be a strong Indian woman with ambition.

I loved learning that you were the first working woman in our family. Bucking tradition must have been difficult, but you were rewarded with a job at a telephone exchange which helped you to hone your skills in English and make close friends. Sounds like you had lots of fun too!

Taking another courageous step, you left the safety of your family home in Bangalore and moved to the UK with Dad in the 1960s, losing no time in looking for a job and forging your independence. You refused that job in a sari shop, offered to you at the job centre as the only option for an Indian woman, and started a long career in Accounts.

You wanted to fit in, so you did what you had to do in order to be accepted in this new world. You dressed in ‘Western’ clothing, saving your saris for special occasions. You were careful with your cooking, too, making sure it didn’t smell too strong so as not to upset the neighbours. I wish you had been accepted and valued just as you were – a proud Indian woman with ambition (who cooked amazing South Indian food!)

You wanted the same for me right from the start, firmly telling my first teacher to treat me the same as all the other kids so that I didn’t feel different. You encouraged me to respect my Hindu heritage and culture, and held high expectations for me when it came to my education and career prospects.

At times, I didn’t appreciate what you were trying to do, but with hindsight, I know you were trying to give me better opportunities to be accepted and thrive. Now that you are no longer here, I have your voice in my head and your stories for inspiration.

Thanks to you, I am committed to advocating for inclusivity and diversity in the building industry. I want to bring about positive change so that no one else feels the need to change who they are in order to fit in.

No bias. No stereotypes. No discrimination.

Thank you, Mum.

#breakthebias #IWD2022


Chithra Marsh is an Associate Director at Buttress Architects.

Comment Press & Comment

DCFW Celebrates International Women’s Day 2022 – Carole-Anne Davies

Our Chief-Executive Carole-Anne Davies shares her thoughts today to mark International Women’s Day and help #breakthebias #IWD #IWD2022


Carole-Anne Davies

The one.

The one who…

…checks herself before entering the room.

…can’t believe she’s there.

…stands out and not in a good way – she thinks.

…whose skin is different from the others.

The redhead.

The big one.

The stroppy one.

The chopsy one.

The one who apologises whenever she speaks…sorry can I just…

The one who isn’t academic.

The one who is academic.

The one with ‘the hair’.

The gay one.

The trans one.

The old one.

The junior one.

The reader.

The one who didn’t catch where the others were going.

The one who isn’t just ‘the one’ but is only one, among millions, getting the message every day that they don’t fit.

How exacting the dimensions are in a biased world.

#breakthebias #IWD2022


Carole-Anne Davies is the Chief Executive of the Design Commission for Wales.

Comment Press & Comment

DCFW Celebrates World Book Day 2022

To celebrate World Book Day 2022, we asked DCFW friends and colleagues for their book recommendations.


Cora Kwiatkowski

I always loved books. I generally read whatever falls into my hands and is recommended to me, and there is not enough space on my bookshelves to hold them all so some had to be banned to the loft, only to be pulled out again after a while, and some read again. As a teenager, my favourite place to read books on holiday was sitting about 5 meters up in a tree!

I do own a good selection of architecture and design books although more recently they have been replaced by newsletter and internet articles.

Nevertheless, sometimes there are books that catch my eye, and I just have to buy them, despite the lack of space. After visiting the Renzo Piano exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in September 2018 – January 2019, I was so inspired by the short film and interview by Thoms Riedelsheimer that was shown in the room where ‘Piano Island’ was built – a large model with all the project he has been working on – that I wanted to relive the experience and continue to be inspired by Piano’s ideas. ‘Renzo Piano: The Art of Making Buildings’ interpretive text centrepiece is a similar interview and it felt like Renzo Piano being in the room.

His work has followed me in my whole career. When I was a student, I was deeply impressed by the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Nouméa (1998), which comprises of elegant structures which combine tradition and context with modern engineering and cultural appeal. Now I see The Shard (2012), one of his more recent buildings, most times I am in London, a needle-sharp marker of the centre.

Piano talks about ‘beauty’ – a well-discussed word recently – and how incredibly complex it is. Something we all aspire to; it is being described like Atlantis. Something you look for but that you’ll never find- but you can come close. Our job as architects is about creating places for people and bringing the beauty to the world we live in.

Taking a step back from the daily design work and all its challenges, it is lovely to be reminded about the importance of our jobs and the impact our buildings can have.

I’m currently reading ‘Spring Cannot Be Cancelled’ – David Hockney in Normandy’. A reminder of the power of art for distraction and inspiration. This life-affirming correspondence between two old friends – Hockney and Martin Gayford – not only lets us take part in their life but is also very personal – David Hockney’s simple way of life in the middle of lockdown, getting closer to nature again and enjoying being undistracted. Be prepared for more book recommendations and enjoy beautiful drawings, some previously unpublished. David Hockney shows us how to see things and how his life has changed, concentrating on the essential things in life. Highly recommended!

Cora Kwiatkowski is a Divisional Director at Stride Treglown and a DCFW Commissioner.

Read and watch the text and films from the Renzo Piano exhibition film here. This 17-minute, dual-screen film installation was commissioned especially for the exhibition. © Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2018. A film by Thomas Riedelsheimer.

Buy the books:
Renzo Piano: The Art of Making Buildings

Spring Cannot be Cancelled: David Hockney in Normandy 


Jon James

Books and the variety of reading inspires us all in many ways – I have always tried to mix architectural essays with books that can give a me an alternative cultural view that I will never experience myself. I have a bit of a bad habit of having a few books on the go at the same time and tend to stop and restart: sometimes months apart!

I currently have two books on the go Gandhi’s autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth and I have also just started Still Breathing: Black Voices on Racism – 100 Ways to change the narrative. Both are about first-hand experiences and insights that simply make you sit up and think in so many ways about the reality and bravery of facing adversity. Almost everything I read is non-fiction, biographical/ autobiographical, however in contrast to this I recently read a book, highlighted for its reaching ideas called The Power by Naomi Alderman. The story in its simplest terms is about women gaining powers to become the dominant gender in the world. It is brilliantly written, thought provoking and gripping from start to finish.

In relation to Architecture, there are a number of books that stand out for me. Most are classic reading for an Architect but none the less important and have inspired me throughout my career. Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture is important for its arguments in generating discussion at various levels. It ranges from the human modular scale to the city wide urban planning. It reminds me to think wider in context and learn from the past, it encouraged me to travel as much as I can and understand historic places such as the Acropolis. This in turn informs the future, but we must also be in the present and not simply recreate the nostalgia of the past. This seems particularly poignant to me as we urgently face the climate emergency; and that leads me to Richard Rogers’ brilliant Cities for a small planet (and the complementary Cities for a small country), written some 25 years ago it rings true on many fronts today. Most significantly is how culturally a shift is needed to change what we perceive as value in our built environment which has been dominated for decades by real estate making money. I like to think this is now changing and that the emphasis is now on sustainability.

Aside from the written text, being in a visual profession, I enjoy books without words as well. Some books feature design ideas/ buildings/ details and materials of how our buildings and spaces are made and what they are made of.

Finally, as an amateur cyclist and living in South Wales I have enjoyed my signed autobiographical accounts by Geraint Thomas, Tour De France Winner. In particular his adventures, over and around the hills, Valleys and Mountains of South Wales. Anyone who has cycled them can relate to his experiences, even if it is at a slightly different pace!

World Book Day is a great excuse to stop, reflect and share. I am looking forward to reading other people’s recommendations so I can continue to find new inspiration.

Jon James is a registered Architect, a certified Passive House designer, and a DCFW Commissioner.

Buy the books:

An Autobiography – M K Gandhi 

Still Breathing: 100 Black Voices on Racism–100 Ways to Change the Narrative

The Power – Naomi Alderman

Towards a New Architecture – Le Corbusier

Cities for a Small Planet – Lord Richard Rogers

Cities for a Small Country – Lord Richard Rogers

The Tour According to G: My Journey to the Yellow Jersey – Geraint Thomas

World of Cycling According to G – Geraint Thomas

Mountains According to G – Geraint Thomas


Gayna Jones

Invisible Women – Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez opened my eyes to ‘how in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population’. I am a woman in a world designed by men!

My journey to the Design Commission began in social housing, where design can be poor. Reading this book, my experience began to make sense.

In my kitchen, some cupboards are high. Most men could reach, but as a 5’4” woman, I can’t. Criado-Perez points out ‘seeing men as the human default is fundamental to the structure of human society’ and she provides lots of data to prove it. A simple example is the way things as diverse as a piano and a smartphone are designed for the average size of a male hand.

She demonstrates that cars are designed for and by men, creating real safety issues for women. A frustrating example for me is car seat belts; I have never found a comfortable one!

Housing estates are largely designed for the needs of cars rather than people often ignoring the needs of children in particular. Partly due to the pandemic we are moving away from valuing cars over pedestrians, but most estates are still designed around highways, car parking and car use. The transport profession is highly male dominated. Criado-Perez says, ‘the available research makes bias toward typically male modes of transport clear’. Transport is designed largely around male travel patterns – by default; two daily journeys to and from work, rather than multiple trips to school, shops, relatives, healthcare. It caters for men travelling on their own, rather than women who travel with shopping, buggies, children, or elderly relatives. ‘Rough, narrow and cracked pavements littered with ill placed street furniture combined with narrow and steep steps makes travelling around a city with a buggy extremely difficult’. Many women feel unsafe in public places like bus stops, yet urban places are designed taking no account of this. Street lighting is given little or low priority.

Another good example, is from Sweden, where they prioritised clearing snow from roads for cars, rather than from the pavements which are mostly used by women pedestrians. Changing this priority dramatically decreased accidents.

This book helps you see why things are as they are & how a change in focus is long overdue. I highly recommend it.

Gayna Jones is the Chair of the Design Commission for Wales.

Buy the Book:
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men – Caroline Criado-Perez


Martin Knight

I love being surrounded by books, even though I often cannot imagine when I will find time to read them. January brings a rare opportunity, with long nights and a logjam of birthday and Christmas books to work through.

I have selected four books to celebrate World Book Day, three of which are current and encompass reading for pleasure as well as knowledge. The fourth I have read many times and is a source of inspiration and enlightenment as well as enjoyment.

I recently bought David Mellor: Master Metalworker while visiting the David Mellor Cutlery Factory in Hathersage, Derbyshire. Although aware of their handmade cutlery and beautiful factory in the Peak District, designed by Hopkins Architects, I knew less about the role of David Mellor in post-war British design. His work includes exquisite tableware for society events and street furniture that is immediately familiar, including the iconic British traffic lights, pedestrian crossing (with the inviting button that every child has pressed), and bus shelters. The importance of design, whether for extraordinary events or everyday life, is lovingly chronicled.

The daily trials of last year’s Tour de France are told first-hand with brutal honesty in Tour de Force, by Mark Cavendish. The fast-paced narrative is even more powerful given his return from several years of illness, injury and poor form. It is gripping to read the painstaking preparation of athlete and machinery – always under the scrutiny of a sport with a dirty history – combined with the supreme self-belief of an elite athlete.

My uncle loaned me his copy of Island Years, Island Farm by Frank Fraser Darling last summer (I have since bought my own!), following a conversation about our own island heritage. Another account of an arduous pursuit – measured in seasons rather than in split-seconds – this chronicles one family’s true adventures on various tiny Scottish islands in the 1930s, observing wildlife and learning to farm. It describes a slow, rewarding and respectful relationship with nature that modern life has largely forgotten to its cost.

The final choice is my favourite book. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig is a story of a motorcycle road trip, of a father and a son, of philosophy and reality. The road trip is a metaphor for life and the storyteller explores themes including Quality and a Sense of Place, which resonate with my passion for bridge design.

Martin Knight is Founder and Managing Director of Knight Architects, and a member of the DCFW Design Review Panel.

Buy the books:
David Mellor: Master Metalworker

Tour de Force – Mark Cavendish 

Island Years, Island Farm – Frank Fraser Darling 

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig


Joanna Rees

Wet 1980’s Saturday afternoons in Pyle Library. The smell of plastic lining and rustle of shushing. Books bought in Smiths in the Rhiw Centre and read in the car before we got home. The excitement of a birthday book token for Lear’s and a trip to Cardiff. It’s been a lifelong love of books, storytelling and the escapism they offer. I can’t pretend that reading was a great influence on my career; if my early years were anything to go by I would have been running a boarding school or doing pony jobs with Jill.

Now, I love books with a sense of place, history and architecture where I can step into another’s thoughts and landscape. From the opium wars of a Sea of Poppies (Amitav Ghosh), to war torn Penang and divided loyalties of The Gift of Rain (Tan Twan Eng) I like being transported back in time and made to think. It’s the books that stay with you, wondering whether the Sealwoman’s Gift (Sally Magnusson) based on a pirate raid of Iceland in 1627, and the family taken in slavery to Algiers, were better off eating pomegranates by the fountains or stuffed puffins on the windy cliffs.

Nature writing too, Robert Macfarlane’s glorious writing of the British landscape on land, language and the Underland. James Rebanks’ Shepherd’s Life with his Hardwick Sheep and the challenges of restoring traditional farming in the Lake District. Not to forget the delight of a small anthology of poetry. John Clare’s feeling for nature, Robert Frost’s two road diverging in that wood and Hardy’s Darkling Thrush. And that Boathouse in Laugharne offering up, ” the mussel pooled and the heron Priested shore”

Finally, for insomnia, always poetry and always Mary Oliver for hope and Wendy Cope for that wistful sardonic twist.

Joanna Rees is a Partner at Blake Morgan, and a DCFW Commissioner.

Buy the books:
Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh

The Gift of Rain – Tan Twan Eng

The Sealwoman’s Gift – Sally Magnusson

The Shepherd’s Life – James Rebanks

Faber Nature Poets: John Clare

The Collected Poems – Robert Frost

New and Selected Poems – Mary Oliver

Serious Concerns – Wendy Cope

Read ‘The Darkling Thrush’ by Thomas Hardy online.

Read ‘A Poem in October’ by Dylan Thomas online.

An article on John Clare’s poetry.


Fiona Nixon

There seems to be a common thread to all my favourite fiction books, and that is, a strong sense of place, or a building that is central to the plot. I love a well-researched book and one set in a real place. Is it just me that checks out the locations out on Google Earth?

My all-time favourite, and one I frequently recommend is Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. There are just so many fascinating elements to Carey’s masterful storytelling; the excruciatingly awkward Oscar, the unconventional Lucinda and her trials working in a man’s world in the late 1800s, scandalously drawn together by their gambling addictions. The detailed and humorous narrative shifts seamlessly between the different characters’ perceptions of the events that unfold. I love the facts and metaphors around glass, particularly the Prince Rupert’s drop – a ‘firework’ in the world of glass manufacturing. The story is drawn from miscommunications and misunderstandings and culminates in the transportation of a glass church over unchartered land and down the Bellinger River.

The Bone People by Keri Hulme is a more challenging read. Set in New Zealand with Maori influences, it is an unconventional story of love and relationships between a woman, a man and a child, but with themes of isolation, fear and violence. Kerewin lives in a stone tower, which she deconstructs and rebuilds in a different way, symbolising the changes in her life.

In the last year I’ve read two more excellent books with houses at their cores, both coincidentally set in the outskirts of Philadelphia. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, centres on a family’s attachment to a large eccentrically designed suburban house – More glass, more misunderstandings and more bad decisions. Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver follows two families living in the same house at different times, 1870 and 2016, each struggling to maintain the house and keep their families together. It has more contemporary themes of capitalism, poverty, feminism and mental health.

What am I reading now? Well a slight shift from buildings, and not fiction, but definitely deeply rooted in place – English Pastoral by James Rebanks. ‘A story of how, guided by the past, one farmer began to salvage a tiny corner of England that was now his, doing his best to restore the life that had vanished and to leave a legacy for the future.’ I’m only two chapters in, but I think I’m going to enjoy it.

Fiona Nixon is an Architect, a DCFW Commissioner, and a former Head of Estates Projects at Swansea University.

Buy the books:
Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey

The Bone People – Keri Hulme

The Dutch House – Ann Patchett

Unsheltered – Barbara Kingsolver

English Pastoral – James Rebanks


Jamie Brewster

The Electric State – Simon Stålenhag

I first discovered the work of Simon Stålenhag six years ago. Whilst searching the web for imagery I came across his arresting images which at first glance seemed convincingly real. Almost photo-realistic in execution, it was only the subject matter, the strange juxtaposition of rural landscape with other-worldly infrastructure and technology that suggested otherwise. I delved deeper and encountered an extensive portfolio of beautiful paintings, all sharing that unsettling quality in combining the everyday with the unusual. With clear influences of Syd Mead, Ralph McQuarrie and Edward Hopper, the appeal was even greater in realising that what were assumed to be paintings in oil/acrylics were in fact 100% digital. On his website, he frequently shares magnified extracts of his ‘paintings’, generously explaining his technique. I have spent hours ‘reading’ his imagery, marveling at the supreme skill in digital image-making.

And yet he is also a skilled writer. The images are created to support fascinating stories which reminisce on alternative histories. Firmly steeped in sci-fi, his is a reverse-engineered vision of the future viewed through a nostalgic lens. Having concentrated his story telling on his native Sweden in his first two books, The Electric State takes place in a reimagined version of American history.

A road trip with a difference: the story traces the journey of Michelle and her small robot companion Skip, from east to west coast. On the trip through what appears to be classic American landscape, they encounter strange yet beautiful structures, machines and a population in the grip of a techno-induced self -destruction. As the story progresses the mood and atmosphere of growing dread and darkness increases. The closing reveal of who/what Skip is adds a moving finale.

I’ve enjoyed this book many times using a different approach each time. Sometimes, I restrict my view to the images alone. Sometimes I do the reverse, focusing exclusively on the text. The experience is richly satisfying regardless how you choose to read the work. Either way, there is room for an ongoing interpretation whether using the visuals, the text or both as the source.

The common thread in Stålenhag‘s work, exemplified in The Electric State, is the idea of place. His ability to conjure real depictions of place by capturing mood and atmosphere through words and imagery makes this book hugely compelling and inspirational on so many levels.

Jamie Brewster is a Senior Associate Architect with DB3 architecture, and is a member of the Design Commission for Wales Design Review Panel.

Buy the book:
The Electric State –  Simon Stålenhag


Steve Smith

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning – Laurie Lee

Moments of great change in a life are frequently marked by ceremony and public celebration. The change of leaving home for the first time is not one of these events. It is a marked by a powerful mix of parental sadness and pride, youthful anticipation and fear. The drama of the moment is concealed beneath commonplace salutations of farewell, and advice given sincerely but half in jest. The occasion is too personal, but also too momentous, to allow public ritual and ceremony to intrude on this private moment.

Leaving home is captured perfectly by the title and in the first pages of Laurie Lee’s book describing how he walked out from his childhood home to explore the world in 1934. Somehow he evokes the emotions of his mother without the use of a single word on the topic. Instead, there is a simple description of her waving farewell as he heads away carrying his violin to embark on this adventure and the next chapter of his life.

The tale that unfolds describes the encounters of this innocent and naive youth on the roads in Spain in the years before the cataclysm of WWII. He seems to travel safely through a simpler word, sure of his invincibility- a privileged state of mind given only to wandering, innocent youth. Gradually his innocence is tempered by growing evidence of impeding civil war in Spain.

Any reader who encounters the first chapter of this book will be enriched by it. If they go on to read further they will discover an adventure that will live on in their enriched imagination.

Steve Smith is an architect, Founder and Director at Urban Narrative. He is also a member of the DCFW Design Review Panel and an advisor to the Design Commission for Wales.

Buy the book:
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning – Laurie Lee



Education Reports

Merchant Place, Cory’s Building Cardiff (Feb 22)

Reports Residential/housing

Respite House, Llanrhian (Feb 22)

Reports Residential/housing

251 Cyncoed Road, Cardiff – Desktop review (Feb 22)

Reports Residential/housing

Ty Du, Nelson (Jan 22)


Placemaking and Climate resilience on the Crindau Flood Alleviation Scheme, Newport

Laura Cotton, Natural Resources Wales

How do you ‘placemake’ a flood alleviation project?

Flood schemes can cover large areas; often intertwined with well-used public spaces.  The flood protection element is hopefully only used infrequently, but the built structures are permanently in place for the community during their daily lives.  Considering placemaking during objective setting and design could help build more successful flood schemes, and improve the local environment.

Since this project was completed, the Crindau community of Newport is now better protected from flooding. Over Six hundred properties have reduced flood risk as a result of 2.6 km of new flood walls and embankments.  Consideration of climate change resilience and sea level rise in the design will ensure that the flood risk benefit will be maintained for another 100 years.

This article briefly explains some of the benefits delivered beyond the flood remit – supporting wider wellbeing, environmental and sustainability objectives.

Landscape Design and Placemaking

The project needed to provide flood protection, but also equally important was our vision to improve a deprived area to create better spaces for people.  Critical to the success was appointing environmental advisors and landscape architects early –  to help shape the project objectives and design.

A derelict working men’s club was demolished, allowing part of the site to  become an amenity area containing colourful planting and informal play features.   Unsafe areas were improved through design, such as the removal of old garages, a disused toilet block and demolition of two decaying industrial buildings – introducing light and a better feeling of space.  Large amounts of contaminated waste were removed. Areas subject to fly tipping and drug use were modified so that the community would feel safer.  For example, an area under a road flyover was made more ‘friendly’ by removing walls, re-landscaping and providing new lighting columns. A children’s play area was made safer by fencing it from the river and upgrading safety matting around play equipment.

Other new features provided a safer connection for people walking between the community, Shaftsbury Park and the City.  We improved several cycleways, footpaths and created new ones.

Consideration was given to how the flood defences would reflect their setting. The finishes therefore change from steel in the more industrial settings, to different types and colours of stone and bricks in more public areas, that tied in with existing brick work on properties. This created high quality urban finishes in places that previously  were neglected. The gates at Shaftsbury Park were replaced with a bespoke design manufactured locally and old Victorian railings were replaced.


We integrated measures to improve access and quality of greenspaces.  Planting of trees, bulbs and wildflowers provided colour, interest and biodiversity benefits.

The flood defence around Shaftesbury Park integrated amphitheatre style seating providing a viewpoint overlooking sports pitches, making them multi-purpose.

We hope to deliver improvements to another area of Newport during our flood works in Liswerry next year and in other communities across Wales.


(Above) The improved path on the crest of the flood defence through Shaftsbury park.

(Above) Photograph shows the design stage of the project. It was identified that the brickwork on Pugsley street was a feature that could be replicated in the flood defence design. Second photograph shows the completed wall prior to landscaping.

(Above) Amphitheatre style seating integrated within the flood defence.

(Above) Red brick finish at Lyne Road and robust piling and finishes (concrete kerbs) needed within the industrial area off Albany Street. A fence is needed to prevent fly tipping onto the riverbank and increase security for the businesses.


Placemaking for Future Generations in a Changing Climate

Petranka Malcheva and Marie Brosseau-Navarro, Future Generations Office.

The wave of climate change is upon us, and we only have a few years to protect our future generations from its catastrophic consequences. As the last generation with the ability to take action to prevent the worst effects of climate change, we have the responsibility to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that our children and grandchildren can grow up in a functioning, green and biodiverse world that enables everyone to fulfil their full potential.

Land use planning has an important role to play here. Our built environment is directly linked to our natural environment. If done without care for long-term trends and impacts planning can increase vulnerabilities such as exposure to floods. But it can also, if done right, be an extremely powerful tool to both build climate resilience and to achieve the ambitious vision set out in the Well-being of Future Generations Act.

Placing biodiversity, sustainability and placemaking at the heart of every planning decision that we make in Wales, would naturally effect positive change in many other areas like land use, infrastructure, transport, housing, public health and equality as is required by the pioneering legislation for the well-being of future generations in Wales.

Future generations need us to be planning for places which actively seek to prevent climate change and its impacts, help restore stability and increase the resilience of our ecosystems.

Planning places in a way that preserves open space and greenfield sites, incorporates green infrastructure (especially in urban zones), and encourages tree planting can minimise vulnerabilities and increase resilience. Such approaches can also help unlock multiple benefits such as improved air quality, increase in local green skills fit for a net zero economy, which would enable young people to remain within their communities, as well as ensuring equal access to nature and green space for everyone, this contributing to multiple well-being goals.

By supporting ambitions for increased tree planting, such as the National Forest for Wales, planning can increase the capability of the land sector to act as a carbon sink and remove emissions from the atmosphere, decrease risk of flooding and help restore natural habitats of native Welsh species. This will also offer opportunities for our economy and the shift to green skills and a green net zero carbon economy we need.

This is something that should be done with people. It is vital that communities are brought along to these journeys and their knowledge and expertise is utilised in collaborating and co-designing climate resilience solutions for the places they live in.

The opportunities for action are many and the key to success lies in taking these opportunities and scaling them up urgently, or we are risking a tomorrow where our future generations are having to carry sandbags and build their own lifeboats to save themselves from our inaction today.


Placemaking, Climate Change and the Routes to Net Zero

In October 2021, DCFW and the RSAW hosted a joint event titled ‘Climate change and the Routes to Net Zero’. Three of DCFW’S Design Review Panel members spoke at the event – Ashley Bateson, Lynne Sullivan and Simon Richards.

Ashley Bateson is a Partner and the Head of Sustainability at Hoare Lea. Ashley works with clients and architects to improve energy efficiency and achieve broader sustainability objectives. Ashley is an expert contributor to a number of organisations and government research and reviews, is an active member of the UKGBC and a member of the Design Commission for Wales Design Review Panel.

Lynne Sullivan OBE is an architect at LSA Studio. A consistent theme in Lynne’s work has been built environment sustainability, through the buildings and places she has designed and delivered, and through research and advisory roles. Lynne is a Visiting Professor and design consultant, including as a Design Advisor for RIBA Competitions and a Design Council expert. Lynne authors and chairs policy review and research projects for UK governments and others, is a Board member of the Passivhaus Trust and the CLC’s Green Construction Board, Chair of the Good Homes Alliance and a member of the Design Commission for Wales Design Review Panel.

Simon Richards is the Founder Director at Land Studio. He has spent over fifteen years leading design teams and projects on a range of sites throughout the UK and internationally. He is also a panellist and Co-Chair for the Design Commission for Wales and a panellist for the Chester City design review panel.

In this article they revisit some of the key themes raised in the event.


Ashley Bateson:

Climate change will impact the built environment in many ways. We have already seen significant trends in the last ten years: heat waves, more extreme weather events, storms, and flooding. Yet our way of planning and designing buildings hasn’t changed much. Architectural priorities, engineering methods and construction standards haven’t altered during this period, or indeed for decades, despite the well published science on the consequences of global warming. We need to fundamentally embed climate resilience in how we plan and design, in order to limit the detrimental impacts on properties, people and infrastructure.

New buildings should be designed to limit overheating risk. Measures such as designing appropriately configured glazing (with limits on full height glazing), providing more openable windows that allow purge ventilation and shading, where appropriate, can avoid overheating conditions. External environments should incorporate nature-based solutions to moderate microclimates, absorb rainfall and create cooling conditions in the summer.

Many of these techniques are not new and well recognised in traditional architecture. Even though we know that temperatures are predicted to rise, we see new homes, schools and offices that don’t have sufficient means of limiting solar gains or providing adequate ventilation. In some cases, the conditions become unbearable, and these buildings become difficult to occupy. Some local authorities require designs to be informed by thermal dynamic modelling and expect overheating risk assessments, but most planning authorities don’t have a policy for this, so non-resilient designs are being developed without proper reviews.

If we make climate resilience a priority in planning and design, we can deliver a better quality of life for occupants, reduce costs of repairing damage and reduce the need for more expensive mitigation later. Internationally it’s not a new experience. It’s a great opportunity to see how other countries deal with hotter summers and wetter winters and learn design lessons from them.


Lynne Sullivan:

Following COP26 in November 2021 even the UK – with its world-leading 78% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035 ambitions – must revisit and strengthen the policies needed to meet targets agreed in Paris 2015. For the built environment sector, which is responsible for 40% of our carbon, this means radical change.

Our sector’s role in placemaking is key to linking the range of strategies needed to rise to this challenge. For example, if you analyse carbon footprint on a local/regional basis, transport always represents the biggest portion, so designers must advocate reducing transport emissions by location, amenity, and connectivity choices.

The design of buildings must be holistic: accurately predicting the carbon footprint of buildings over their lifetime demands a cultural re-think for our industry, favouring sustainable re-use of existing structures and materials, as well as driving down energy demand to a level consistent with our Paris commitments, and ensuring performance in use matches prediction.  It is estimated that 40% of existing UK homes overheat and, in a warming climate, shading and the ability to minimize excess temperatures is a crucial aspect of building design but also demands design of public space and streets to mitigate high temperatures and damaging health impacts.

Well-designed green spaces are proven to reduce ambient temperatures as well as providing health benefits and socialising possibilities. Welsh Government has committed to plant 86 million more trees in Wales, and in December 2021 announced that every household in Wales will have a tree to plant, either at home or in their community.  Designers can deploy these initiatives to draw together a progressive vision for built environment developments, to improve and create places which are attractive, therapeutic, and resilient.

Technology is our friend in this endeavour: world class public transport infrastructure ensuring green travel and inclusive access is of key importance, and on-demand autonomous private and shared infrastructure is now on trial in the UK.  Digital Building passports are being rolled out as part of Welsh Government’s Optimised Retrofit Programme, paving the way for all buildings new and existing to have a digital ‘twin’ to track materials, maintenance, and performance, offering every building user a digital ‘app’ interface which enables them to track air quality and energy data – real-time evidence of design outcomes!


Simon Richards:

Reconnecting people with nature is vital to tackling the impact of global warming.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and the gradual urbanisation of the natural environment, we have become increasingly detached from nature. Sadly, too many of us have little or no understanding of the natural processes and cycles that surround us. It has led to a dangerous lack of understanding and care for addressing the problems we have created. For too long, we have been working against nature rather than with it.

So, what can we do to address the awareness of climate change in today’s society and what should the landscapes of the future look like?

I believe that if we re-connect with natural process, we will enhance biodiversity, reduce flood risk, sequester carbon, and create a more resilient food-producing landscape. As designers, we should seek to embed nature into our designs, whether we are designing a landscape for a school, a residential street, or the re-interpretation of a National Trust property.

The water cycle is a key component of our landscapes that also needs to be addressed and fully integrated into our built environment. Enhancement of watercourses and de-culverting of drains are integral to healthy habitats and visible nature.

The re-establishment of ancient water management practices through rain gardens, woodland management and, critically, the siting of new development helps to create a resilient natural environment whilst demonstrating to people the positive value of water in our landscapes.

As designers, we could begin to specify some exotic planting. Highly flexible, these plants are good at responding to unusual environments more quickly than our native plants.

It is important that we choose ethical and environmentally sensitive materials with a low carbon footprint. We should also look at calculating, reducing, and offsetting our carbon in a meaningful and long-term way.

The health of our soils has long been a forgotten component in our landscapes, but it forms an integral part of a successful rehabilitation of the natural environment and the enhanced sequestration of carbon.

Nature should be at the heart of practice. If we enable people to have a better understanding of the importance of nature, then we have a greater chance of successfully tackling the challenges of our changing climate.


Reports Residential/housing

Victoria Mews, Jack’s Lane, Penarth (Nov 21)

Reports Residential/housing

Llanbedr Hall, Ruthin (Nov 21)

Comment Press & Comment

DCFW Active Travel Map Consultations Statement Autumn 2021 Active Travel Network Maps – Local Authority Public Consultations Autumn 2021 – Walking and cycling in …. have your say

Active Travel Network Maps – Local Authority Public Consultations Autumn 2021 – Walking and cycling in …. have your say

Comment Press & Comment

95cm Perspective

We were all 95 cm tall once, typically when we were about three years old. Do you remember what places were like from down there?

It can be easy to forget the perspective of a child from our lofty 5’ to 6’ height, or from the driver’s seat of a car. But children see and experience things differently – the joys, the dangers, the magic of places.

Being a parent or caregiver to a child also changes the perception of a place. Walking times multiply when you have little legs to account for, access to toilet facilities becomes all the more important with nappies to change or in the midst of potty training, and ‘stay on the pavement’ becomes a highway safety mantra but only works if there is a clearly defined pavement and there aren’t cars on it.  Navigating and enjoying the city changes in the presence of children but their perspective is often overlooked in the planning and design of our town and city centres.

It is from this perspective that Urban 95 Academy want city makers to view the city.  The Bernard van Leer Foundation and the London School of Economics and Political Science had developed a ‘leadership programme designed for municipal leaders across the world to learn and develop strategies to make cities better for babies, toddlers and their caregivers’[1].  The programme offers a fantastic opportunity for city makers to learn from international experience and draw upon it as they devise strategies for their own city.  More information can be found on the Urban 95 Academy website.

As highlighted by Play Wales, all children have the right to play, a right in fact enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child[2].  Article 31 of the Convention says:

Every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

This includes not just young children but also older children and teenagers who often get actively designed out of spaces rather than being welcomed and accommodated.  It is in this context that the charity Make Space for Girls was established to ‘campaign for parks and public spaces to be designed for girls and young women, not just boys and young men’[3].  Their research found that in many cases not only were teenage girls not well catered for in the design of public spaces, but they could also feel actively excluded by the design.  They highlight the need to understand the context of any particular public space and to speak to girls in the area to develop creative solutions as there is no ‘off the shelf’ fix.  Their website does, however, provide some examples of ideas that work of have been tried elsewhere.

Whether it be a new development, a town centre strategy or investment in existing public spaces, what is often sadly lacking is sufficient thinking from the perspective of the full range of people who will be inhabiting these spaces.  Research, talking to and involving those people who may be future users of the space should be a standard part of the approach to planning for investment in the public realm, as well as on going monitoring and investment.

Many people with many needs can be overlooked when places are designed for a hypothetical average standard model. People are not standard, and the lens of a child is a helpful one as planning and designing for children will often result in places that are more accessible and more equitable for everyone.

By Jen Heal



Masterplan Reports

Coed Darcy New Masterplan (Oct 21)

Press & Comment Press Releases

Over 100 of Wales’ leading organisations commit to tackling climate change by signing the Wales Placemaking Charter


Monmouthshire County Council has confirmed its support for the Wales Placemaking Charter, joining 101 other leading Welsh organisations in the fight to tackle climate change and support recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the latest local authority to sign the Placemaking Charter, Monmouthshire County Council joins Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Swansea Council. Other signatories include 29 architecture or design practices, 20 membership bodies, ten Government organisations, 11 housing associations including Pobl Housing and seven private housing developers including the UK’s leading housebuilder Redrow and Magor-based Edenstone Homes.  All have pledged to:

  • Involve the local community in the development of proposals
  • Choose sustainable locations for new development
  • Prioritise walking, cycling and public transport
  • Create well defined, safe and welcoming streets and public spaces
  • Promote a sustainable mix of uses to make places vibrant
  • Value and respect the positive distinctive qualities and identity of existing places.

Welcoming the latest signatory to the Placemaking Charter, Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “The backdrop to the placemaking charter’s first year has been like no other and it is very pleasing  to see that more organisations are committing to the challenge of increasing the quality of development across Wales.

“I’m delighted that another local authority has joined the charter as they are particularly well placed to plan and deliver projects that directly improve places and people’s quality of life.  I hope this encourages other local authorities to join in the near future.”

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member with responsibility for placemaking said: “I’m proud that Monmouthshire County Council has become a signatory to the Placemaking Wales Charter.  Our aim is a thriving and well-connected sustainable county that gives people the best possible start in life, maximises the potential of our environment, improves well-being and focuses upon the future.  Recent times have shown us how important the places where we live are to our quality of life.  Our focus must now be on the future; building back better by creating sustainable places that aid regeneration and improve health and well-being.  Good placemaking is at the heart of our local development plan and future aspirations and signing the Wales Placemaking Charter emphasises our commitment to these objectives.”

Carole Anne Davies, Chief Executive of the Design Commission for Wales added: “The commitment made by those that have signed up to the Placemaking Charter represents a key response to more sustainable places and addressing climate imperatives.

“In just one year since the launch of the Placemaking Charter, we have seen over 100 different organisations step-up and pledge their support for sustainable development that will leave a lasting legacy by putting the health and well-being of local people at the heart of all developments. This is particularly important given the need to help protect communities from the effects of climate change.

“Wales really is leading the way – we are the first nation to have a dedicated Minister for Climate Change and we now also have a new and updated Technical Advice 15, further supporting  planning policy that requires developers in Wales to consider potential future flood or coastal erosion due to global warming. That’s also a UK first.

“Now, more than ever, we need to think about places and placemaking. That’s why it is so encouraging to see these organisations join us in making Wales a better place with newly developed or regenerated areas focussed on people and communities that are active and socially connected. We will of course be keeping an eye on commitment being carried through to delivery and expect to see significant positive change.”

The Placemaking Charter was developed by the Welsh Government and the Design Commission for Wales in collaboration with the Placemaking Wales Partnership – a multi-disciplinary group representing professions and organisations working within the built and natural environment. Further information is available at


Charter Anniversary Blog Post: Hana Rowlands, of Edenstone, talks about using the Placemaking Wales Charter.

Hana Rowlands, Edenstone Homes


The Placemaking Wales Placemaking Guide

I am a Part 1 architecture student working at the Edenstone Group within the design team. I was set the challenge to redesign part of our Orb Drive, Newport scheme which we acquired with a reserved matters planning approval for 100 homes. The Placemaking Wales Charter, along with the Placemaking Guide 2020 was my starting point.

We set out to create a strong identity for this phase of the scheme with a sense of place and to create opportunities for social interaction, activity/play and thereby promote a sense of community.

The result is an open, central green that provides the community with an informal play area as well as a place for community activities. The houses surrounding the green have a strong frontage and provide natural surveillance and a safe environment. The key vistas have been addressed with landscaping and feature buildings as well as pedestrian footpaths to link the private drives to improve site connectivity.

We are also using the scheme to develop one of a number of our net zero carbon pilot homes along with Sero, an energy service and tech company in order to achieve our ambition of being a net zero carbon business by 2025.

We use the headings of the Placemaking Wales Charter and the 12 questions from Building For Life 12, Wales as the agenda for our briefing and design review process. The six principles of placemaking work on large scale and mixed-use developments but the theory of Placemaking – ACTIVITY, PHYSICAL FORM and MEANING work at every scale of design.



Charter Anniversary Blog Post: Marianne Mannello, of Play Wales, talks about the Placemaking Charter and play.

Marianne Mannello, Play Wales


Placemaking Charter and play


Playing is central to children’s health and well-being.  It is one of the most important aspects of their lives; however, they report barriers:

  • parked cars and traffic intensity and speed
  • fear of strangers
  • unwelcoming attitudes and environments

The Placemaking Guide discusses how organising play streets can bring people together and revive existing public spaces.

Play Wales supports initiatives that reclaim neighbourhoods for play.  Playing out is good for children and neighbourhoods. Play Wales worked with three Welsh Councils- Vale of Glamorgan, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport to pilot street play in their areas, making streets and communities play friendlier places.

Sally Hughes, local resident and mother, said:

“There are two reasons why we wanted to bring a play street to our neighbourhood. First is how dangerous the road is outside our house.  Having a moment to breathe easy and know our children are safe to be out in the place where they live is a step towards the future we’d like to see.

The other thing is building community, feeling a sense of belonging to the place where we live and the people who we live nearest to.

Our son played with other local children who he wouldn’t have got the chance to meet otherwise.  He was so happy to be free to run and ride his bike. We also conjured playfulness from local teenagers who enjoyed the massive bubbles. It was a thoroughly intergenerational time – we were aged from under 1 to 70+. We really did bring people together!”


Charter Anniversary Blog Post: Land Studio discuss the principle of ‘Identity’ which is part of the Placemaking Wales Charter

Kate Richards, Land Studio

Whilst all six principles of the charter are important in the work we do, it is “identity” that has resonated with us throughout the design process on a project we started last year. The Powys Crematorium is proposed to be a crematorium, natural burial ground and memorial garden set in the pastoral landscape near Caersws, west of Newtown in Mid-Wales.

Our approach to the design began with an analysis of the wider site context, which included both historical and geological aspects. The Caersws Basin (the confluence of four rivers into the Severn Valley) also acted as a boundary for historic kingdoms and a major corridor for communication. We then studied views out and into the site, identifying geological and natural features in the landscape that shape the character of the place.

The next layer of analysis focused on the future use of the site by looking back through the history of burial and cremation, and defining what remembrance can mean, in the context of a landscape. We identified three elements (people, landscape and culture), and subsequently defined a series of ‘memories’ specific to Powys that could also contribute to the sense of place in our proposal.

The design of spaces, routes and materiality were all led by these two strands of analysis, and we believe the resulting masterplan is a strong representation of the natural and cultural history of the landscape. We hope that this resilient identity will create a truly unique place of remembrance for the people of Powys.


Charter Anniversary Blog Post: EDP and Swansea Council discuss their placemaking work on Bryngwyn Fields Garden Village in Swansea


EDP and Swansea Council


Bryngwyn Fields – Garden Village, Swansea


Project Description

An exemplar collaborative approach to placemaking resulting in a masterplan and reserved matters application for a strategic urban extension allocation in Swansea including 720 homes.

(The application received unanimous approval at Planning Committee on 2nd July 2021).


Covid Collaboration – A Virtual Victory?

What success looks like when development teams and local authorities embrace virtual placemaking workshops and engagement?

When EDP were approached by Persimmon Homes to act as a placemaking adviser little did we know then that the role and scope would expand to cover 2020 and into 2021 but would be done during a global pandemic, a period where how we lived and worked would be fundamentally changed. Coronavirus has forced us to change our approach to ensure we could actively engage and collaborate between all parties.  We established a process with which to virtually collaborate to meet the placemaking objectives through a series of group video workshops.

This ‘new’ way of meeting and workshopping ideas felt much more democratic, with everyone arranged on screen as individuals as opposed to ‘us and them’ with metaphorical battlelines drawn across a table from one another.


Placemaking & Strategic Planning Advisor – Swansea City Council

‘The negotiation process between applicant and LPA, which have been undertaken in large part during COVID-19 lockdown, has been a collaborative and creative exercise that significantly improved the scheme as originally proposed in the initial Reserved Matters application.’

‘In fact, the process followed is considered a potential exemplar of the placemaking approach for residential developments. Having regard to the submitted plans and information, there is a significant opportunity for Bryngwyn Fields, Garden Village to become a connected place, a green place, a distinctive place and potentially an exemplar of green infrastructure-led placemaking by a mass house builder.’ 

Quote from: Placemaking & Strategic Planning Advisor Committee Report– Swansea City Council


Charter Anniversary Blog Post: Benham Architects discuss placemaking and The Grange Pavillion

Dan Benham, Benham Architects

The Grange Pavilion embodies the six values of placemaking by engaging with the community at every phase of the design and construction process. This allows us to inculcate their passion, energy, diversity and cultures into driving the design and creation of this place to design a space that they can call ‘home’.

The Pavilion has now become the centre stage for community gathering, encouraging the space to adapt to its vibrant and creative Grangetown community. In November 2017, the partnership sought to extend and formalise the project board and created Grange Pavilion, a new organisation to take ownership and management responsibility for the building and grounds. The board is made up of 18 individuals, with a minimum 60% Grangetown residents.

Over the last three years, Grange Pavilion has brought together more than 3,000 residents, was used by over 100 stakeholders, and launched 150 community-led initiatives in response to locally-generated ideas, resulting in over 1,000 sessions/activities on site.

Being a space that is created by the people and for the people, the Pavilion is constantly growing and adapting. It embeds itself into the public realm, through its location, programme and transparent – welcoming design. The Pavilion starts to mold into a central core for the community, a safe place, a gathering space, a social space, an educational hub, but the final form is undetermined and not pre-planned. It will change, grow and evolve with the community.


DCFW’s Annual Report 2019-21

2019-21 Annual Plan – final

Masterplan Reports

Atlantic Wharf Masterplan (Aug 21)


Case Study: Creating a community-led and community-owned facility

The Grange Pavillion team tell us the placemaking story behind their development in Grangetown, Cardiff


Location:                              Grange Pavilion, Grange Gardens, Grangetown, Cardiff

Local Authority:                Cardiff Council

Client:                                   Grange Pavilion CIO

Design team:                      Dan Benham Architect and IBI Group, with the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University; The Urbanists; Holloway Partnership; Mann Williams; Mott Macdonald; BECT Construction

Date of completion:        October 2020

Contract value:                  £1.87 million

Site area:                             600m2 building

Density:                                n/a

Funding source:                National Lottery, Welsh Government, Enabling Natural Resources Wales, Moondance Foundation, Garfield Weston, HEFCW, Clothworkers Foundation, Cardiff Bay Rotary Club, and individual donations.


People and Community

The Grange Pavilion is a community-led and community-owned facility, achieved through a 99-year Community Asset Transfer and redevelopment of a formerly vacant Bowls Pavilion and green. The project began with a group of residents identifying the need to improve a deteriorating facility in a popular neighbourhood park.

Forming as the Grange Pavilion project, the residents partnered with Cardiff University’s Community Gateway in 2012 to launch Ideas Picnics, event days and a three-year residency with a regular program of activities in the vacant building to increase awareness and build capacity by developing relationships with local residents and existing community organisations and businesses. The design team, led by Dan Benham Architects and IBI Group, developed a design brief through design workshops exploring the ideas generated by the residency.

Opening in October 2020 in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Grange Pavilion is currently under asset guardianship by Cardiff University, giving the newly constituted Grange Pavilion CIO time to develop the capacity to take on the 99-year lease. Composed of 60% residents and partner institutions, Cardiff University, Cardiff and Vale College, Taff Housing, RSPB Cymru, and Cardiff Bay Rotary Club, the Grange Pavilion CIO now manage a program of activities aimed at making Grange Pavilion welcoming and accessible to Grangetown’s multiple communities. Having achieved the ambition of quality which underpinned the development of the Grange Pavilion, ongoing partnership developments view the Grange Pavilion as evidencing the ability of community-led collaborations to improve the built environment on a neighbourhood-wide scale.

Understanding the place

Close collaboration between the Grange Pavilion CIO, Cardiff University’s Community Gateway, the Welsh School of Architecture, Dan Benham and IBI Group supported several years of research to deeply understand the context well before any design proposals began. Live teaching studios co-led by residents asked students to document and analyse historical and contemporary archives, and ran Ideas Picnics, vision days, and storytelling days to explore Grangetown’s physical and cultural settings. All research worked with appreciative inquiry and asset-based principles, focusing on celebrating and building upon existing strengths, skills and possibilities instead of identifying problems to be solved.

The design was informed by the residency in the vacant building, opening up the building and grounds for a multitude of different activities to be offered and tested before finalising any design decisions. Key design elements – the importance of access to a sheltered garden space, an outdoor classroom and events space, a café serving the building and park, a variety of independent and flexible bookable spaces a materials palette respectful of a context of Victorian terraced housing and a screen design using detailing from historical park bandstand – were the direct result of several years of open days and design workshop days with multiple community groups.

As a facility run by community members, a core aim was that of achieving long term civic quality, prioritising good quality and low maintenance materials and equipment.

(photo by Kyle Pearce)



The Grange Pavilion sits in Grange Gardens, close to the Taff Trail improvements put in place by Cardiff Council’s Greener Grangetown and on bus routes and is within a short walking distance to Grangetown train station and Cardiff Central. The next round of fundraising is targeting bike stands in Grange Gardens Park and plans are in place to request signage advertising Grange Pavilion as a stop-off point on the Taff Trail. The core benefit of the project is the provision of a café, accessible toilets and a water-filling point for a popular neighbourhood park.


Mix of uses

The Grange Pavilion CIO’s core aim is to create a welcoming, accessible, non-institutional space which demonstrates a sense of long-term civic quality. The physical layout provides three multifunctional indoor spaces, a co-working office, an outdoor classroom and outdoor events space. The pre-development residency and workshop events emphasised the need for a series of flexible, robust, bright, generous and independently operable yet connected spaces with direct access to the gardens, to accommodate a wide range of community activities. Each space is accessed through a community-led café and adjacent public accessible toilets serving the Grange Pavilion and Grange Gardens, encouraging crossover between the Grange Pavilion and park users.


Public realm

A core factor in the business case to redevelop the Grange Pavilion was the lack of physical and psychological accessibility of the prior facility: several steps into the space meant the building was not disabled accessible, and shutters created an unwelcoming and hostile frontage to the park. The redevelopment prioritises visual and physical accessibility through the building and landscape, with ramps and raised beds ensuring all landscaped elements are accessible, and barrier-free access to all indoor facilities. SUDS rainwater gardens line the perimeter of the gardens, diverting all roof drainage into three rainwater ponds surrounded by pollinator planting. The outdoor classroom and events space have been used by school groups, community gardening groups, the Grangetown World Street market, taster sports sessions including football, cricket, rugby, cycling and baseball. Café seating extends into the gardens and into the park, with a café hatch opposite an existing playground and bandstand.


Delivery structure

The project began with a resident speaking to a local councillor about how to do something about a deteriorating local facility. The conversation, which focused on the need to do something of quality, began the process of a Community Asset Transfer, supported by Cardiff Council’s Stepping Up program, and a Cardiff Council Neighbourhood Partnerships grant provided the first external grant to retain an architect for an early feasibility study. Local authority council members supported the project and the asset transfer throughout and sit on the Grange Pavilion CIO to maintain an ongoing relationship.  Cardiff University’s Community Gateway brought a long-term institutional commitment to the project from the earliest stages, joined by Cardiff and Vale College, Taff Housing, RSPB Cymru, and Cardiff Bay Rotary Club, each bringing increased access to diverse areas of resources and expertise to support the project as it progressed through each stage.

A successful application to a National Lottery Community Asset Transfer 2 grant brought two-stage support to develop a planning application and business case, and capital and 5-year revenue funding to support the redevelopment and launch.  Lottery funding included mentorship from The Development Trusts Association Wales (DTA Wales), and networking site visits to other community asset transfer projects throughout Wales, which were invaluable in identifying key challenges and opportunities to address in the design brief and business case.

The design team were initially invited, along with other architectural practices, to join the project through funded short live teaching briefs, giving the design teams the opportunity to embed into the project and run pre-design activities to get to know the residents’ group, the wider community, and the site. Selected on the basis of evidencing an approach to community co-production, the design team continued design workshops within the residency at several key design stages from concept through detailed design.  Annual live teaching briefs with the Welsh School of Architecture brought students in to further investigate design decisions, including detailing of external screens, planning for daily activities, and ongoing post-occupancy evaluation.


What was the greatest challenge in the delivery of the project and how was it overcome?

The length of time and scale of the demand on all involved – some of the grant applications requiring several months to complete the required paperwork – and the balance in maintaining co-production amongst a continuously evolving and client group with an evolving vision. Grant deadlines at times led to short-term rather than long-term decision making in order to meet capital spending deadlines, and the pressures of institutional frameworks and short-term budgetary pressures had to be balanced against the long-term interests of achieving the aim of civic quality.  A construction site lockdown and opening the building during Covid-19 lockdowns brought its own unique pressures, reducing end of construction budgets for interiors, but allowing for a bare-bones opening and an ongoing funding drive to collaboratively bring the interior to life.


What is the most successful aspect of the development?

A community-envisioned, community-led facility, with generous, bright, inviting and flexible interior and exterior spaces are now being brought to life by a huge variety of local and national individuals and organisations, working together to lead activities for diverse ages, faiths, genders and physical and mental health conditions. As a recent nowinaminutemedia post observed: ‘The landmark £2m expansion of the centre has already proven to be a remarkably inviting and safe place to grow, exhibit, meet, film and create.’


What didn’t work as well as expected or has had to change or evolve?

A covid-19 lockdown stripped out an interiors budget, particularly impacting on interior and exterior furnishings and fixtures.  While the decision to maintain the quality of the permanent materials palette was the right one, it has meant a bare-bones launch with a long term aim of adding more of the richer, more colourful, softer interior elements, and completing more of the landscaped elements including raised beds, seating and cycle racks.  Balancing long term civic quality against short term budget shortfalls always leads to some degree of value engineering, but the long-term commitment from all involved enabled decision making to focus on long term value with the confidence that the project doesn’t end when the doors open.


Building with Nature refreshes Green Infrastructure Standards for the UK built environment sector.

Dr Gemma Jerome, Director of Building with Nature

Five years on from creating the UK’s first green infrastructure benchmark, we were delighted to be releasing our updated Standards on the 17th of June. We have refreshed our guidance to ensure it remains up to date and continues to define ‘what good looks like’, whilst simplifying the framework to make it even easier for industry to use.

The Standards retain the four themes of Core, Wellbeing, Water, and Wildlife, however there are now only 12 Standards in total, making it more straightforward for residential and commercial developers to design and deliver high quality green infrastructure. Two new Standards are now included, one focusing on the climate emergency, capturing all the ways in which green infrastructure can make places and people more resilient to the worst impacts of climate change. And another focusing on ‘place-keeping’, which explicitly defines good practice relating to long-term management, maintenance, monitoring, and stewardship of green infrastructure features.

The new Standards capture the recent policy and legislation changes in Wales, integrating planning policy and guidance around green infrastructure, to ensure Building with Nature complements and supports Green Infrastructure Assessments, and the commitment to maintain, create, and enhance quality places for people and wildlife. In this sense, the Building with Nature Standards and Accreditation system sits firmly within the DECCA framework, designed to assess ecosystem resilience, supported by Natural Resource Wales.

The BwN Standards have been developed in partnership with Welsh Government, and Joanne Smith who sits on the BwN Standards Board responsible for overseeing the process of refreshing the standards in line with policy, legislation, and good industry practice, noted that: “the Standards set a high bar and align with what we would wish to see happening in Wales.”


How Building with Nature works

The Building with Nature benchmark makes it easier for those charged with planning, designing, delivering, and maintaining green infrastructure to secure a range of benefits more consistently for people and wildlife, now and in the long term. It does not require additional preparation of supplementary documentation and works alongside the process followed by built and natural environment professionals, including planners and developers. We do this by providing a framework of holistic design principles, the BwN Standards, and ‘how to’ guidance to help bring forward projects that more effectively deliver high quality green infrastructure at each stage of delivery, from early-stage design, through implementation, and post-construction.

Building with Nature is a voluntary initiative for those who want to go beyond the statutory minima. It offers an assessment and accreditation service to support and reward the delivery of high-quality green infrastructure in both new and existing communities. It is best suited to ‘major’ or ’significant’ sites (10+ houses; 0.5 hectares or more; 1000+ square metres of floor space) and ‘strategic’ sites, such as major regeneration schemes or urban extensions. It can be used for residential, commercial, and community infrastructure developments.

Using the BwN Standards

The BwN Standards Framework is free to use and can be downloaded from our website. Taken together, the 12 BwN Standards define “what good looks like” by offering a set of quality standards for placemaking and place-keeping, covering the themes of Wellbeing, Water and Wildlife. The BwN Standards support cross-disciplinary decision making about green infrastructure design and delivery, from both a planner’s point of view (e.g., for use in both policy making and development management), and a developer’s point of view in their application to the master-planning and detailed design, implementation and construction, or management and maintenance of green infrastructure in development.


July 2021 Policy News

LDP Updates

The Welsh Government highlight opportunities to engage with LDP updates.

The role of planning and planners is key to delivering sustainable and vibrant places for communities. Planning brings opportunities for proactive and innovative approaches to shaping places.  It is uniquely placed to bring people together and to think strategically to shape places into the future. The plan led system is a vital tool in delivering strategic placemaking principles; Local Development Plans should set out a bold, positive vision for their areas recognising opportunities to enhance their communities.

There are a number of Local Development Plans in the early stages of being reviewed.  This is an important opportunity for everyone involved in the planning system to actively embrace the placemaking agenda and shape plans to reflect their local communities and set a framework for a sustainable future. This is best achieved through engagement at the early stages of preparing the plan with a wide range of stakeholders, including those people and organisations who have committed to delivering the placemaking charter’s principles. This will help to ensure that high quality places are delivered across Wales for the benefit of their communities. More information on how to get involved with Local Development Plans can be found on every council’s websites.  The Local Development Plan delivery agreements and community involvement schemes set out how and when to get involved.


20mph speed limit to become a reality on some Welsh roads from this summer

The Welsh Government discuss the plans to reduce the national speed limit from 30mph to 20mph.

Plans to reduce the national speed limit from 30mph to 20mph across Wales on residential roads and other streets where there are lots of pedestrians, will form part of the Welsh Government’s legislative priorities for this year, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters has confirmed.

If passed, Wales will be the first country in the UK to introduce the change which it is hoped that this change will encourage more people to walk and cycle, and with fewer vehicles on the roads there will be a positive impact on the environment. This will play an instrumental role in helping to save lives, protect our communities and improve quality of life for all.

The Welsh 20mph Taskforce investigated road safety and community benefits of slower speeds in built up areas and you can read the report by clicking on the links below:




Phase 1 is being rolled out in eight communities across Wales starting in June 2021 to test and develop the approach for a full rollout by 2023.

The eight locations are:

  • Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
  • Central North Cardiff
  • Severnside, Monmouthshire
  • Buckley, Flintshire
  • Cilfrew Village, Neath and Port Talbot
  • St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire
  • St Brides Major, Vale of Glamorgan
  • Llanelli North, Carmarthenshire.

St Dogmaels in Pembrokeshire and St Brides Major in the Vale of Glamorgan are already live and will be followed by Llanelli North in September. These trials will help develop enforcement arrangements and overcome unforeseen issues before the full rollout.

The areas chosen are intended to be representative sample of different locations found across Wales, including villages, towns and cities. They will focus on community engagement, meaning that as well as developing enforcement arrangements they will communicate the value of the new speed limit, making the case for reduced speed leading to more cohesive and safe communities.

Initial findings from a national public attitude survey, conducted by Beaufort Research, showed support for the plans. 92% of those who wanted a change to the speed limit on their street suggested a speed limit of 20mph or lower, while 77% said they wanted to see this speed limit applied throughout the area in which they live. The study will be published shortly on the Welsh Government website.

Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, said: Making 20mph the default speed limit in residential areas is a bold step that will save lives.

We have made progress on reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads over the 21 years of devolution, but despite our considerable efforts the highest proportion of all casualties, 50%, occurred on 30mph roads during 2018. This cannot be tolerated, so a reduction to 20mph on our residential and other busy pedestrian urban roads has to be the way forward.

Decreasing speeds reduces accidents and saves lives, and alongside this the quality of life will improve, making room on our streets for safer active travel. This helps reduce our environmental impact and has a positive outcome for our physical and mental wellbeing.

As part of this approach the Welsh Government is consulting prior to laying legislation and making the change 20mph national default speed limit on these roads. The consultation started on the 9th July running for 12 weeks and will come to an end on 1st October 2021. Please click on links below to see more information about the consultation.




What is the future for High Streets – and how can design professionals support a greener future?

Wendy Maden, Senior High Streets Renewal Designer & Project Manager at Bath & North East Somerset Council, and DCFW Panel Member

In recent years, changing lifestyles and the growth of online commerce have had a substantial impact on high street businesses. Challenging trading conditions have been made much worse by the effects of Covid-19 restrictions on shops, hospitality, and leisure facilities. A wealth of reports, comment and publications have extolled reinvention since the public health crisis, but what is possible in practice and what can we learn from?

One example is the High Streets Renewal programme in Bath & North East Somerset aims to address the decline of the high street across its city, market towns and local centres. Several projects are in design and delivery which intend to respond to the unique challenges of these areas, considering their different characters, functions, and localities.

Covid-19 has had a varied impact on the high street at different scales, from large scale closures of retail businesses across the country, to renewed interest in travelling by walking and cycling, to new reliance on local centres to shop. Lockdowns have encouraged people to make better use of their local centres and high streets, so where temporary interventions to widen footways and provide outdoor seating for businesses have been implemented to facilitate this, the opportunity could be grasped to make some of these measures more permanent to reimagine how local communities can function.

In the short term the Council is bringing forward initiatives that will protect our existing businesses and local jobs and give residents a reason to visit again. However, we also have longer term plans to help renew our high streets to prepare for the future by creating a greater variety in the mix of uses and activities.


Reclaiming Streets for People

How the high streets are perceived and how they function can help influence more sustainable changes in habits through, for example, reclaiming streets for active travel and enhancing public space. These actions make the move towards treating streets as spaces for public life, events, active travel, and community, rather than heavily trafficked highways.

  • Delivering ‘parklets’ – an area of seating and planting which can sit in the space of a standard parking bay to reclaim highway as public space, which introduce urban greening and increase dwell time in the street.
  • Working with a local pub to develop a business collaboration model for private parklets in the street which serve an adjacent business.
  • Relocating cycle parking from the footway to car parking bays to free up space for pedestrians and reclaim more usable public space.
  • Vehicle access restrictions with bespoke gates which allow filtered permeability for cycles, cargo bikes and pedestrians.
  • Greening through planters and parklets which, whilst also looking attractive, support biodiversity gain and pollinators by the inclusion of nectar-rich plants.
  • Festivals and events to transform spaces and people’s perception of a street. A Car Free Day on Milsom Street reclaimed the street for a weekend of events and animation, delivered in partnership with the businesses, Business Improvement District, and other local partners.
  • Consideration of the materiality and embodied carbon of street furniture and public realm measures, which included f furniture by Vestre who are aiming to build the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory. Although the initial costs may be higher, the long term, wider public benefits of more sustainable street furniture can make this option better value for money through its life cycle.
  • An e-scooter pilot throughout Bath to encourage more sustainable travel modes throughout the city and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Reimagining the Vacant Shops

A Vacant Units Action Project has been set up to respond to increasing vacancy rates in Bath and the market towns by implementing a project to reimagine the future of high streets focusing on using vacant shops as spaces for art, community use and different types of business.

Shopfront installations could be wasteful as they are temporary in nature, however sustainability has been a thread through these animations at varying scales. Biodegradable or reusable materials have been used in shopfront installations created by local arts groups. This includes supporting artists that have installations to exhibit so empty shopfronts are used as gallery spaces for existing projects, rather than creating something new and disposable.


As part of Covid recovery, the project is delivering a High Streets Hub for businesses in Bath City Centre in a vacant unit. The fit out of the unit is being designed and delivered by a certified B Corporation, meaning that they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. The brief requires the use of second-hand furniture and sustainable materials to create this public-facing space.

Although the challenges of the high street post-Covid are numerous, these pilot projects are helping to demonstrate that environmental performance and sustainability need not be compromised in delivery of high quality, design-led renewal. Creative re-use of the high street and diversification of land uses are needed as the high street moves away from the classic retail model which in turn should bring people to live, work and enjoy leisure time in the city centre.



Comment Press & Comment

Sense of the past with a commitment to the future – Jon James

Board member Jon James discusses why we need to refurbish and repurpose buildings rather than bulldozing to make way for new developments. You can read his blog here:

Sense of the past with a commitment to the future – Jon James

Mixed use Reports

The Big Shed, Tonypandy (June 21)

Reports Residential/housing

Ty Du, Nelson (May 21)

Masterplan Reports

Coed Darcy New Masterplan (May 21)


April 2021 Newsletter Welcome / Croeso i Gylchlythyr Ebrill 2021

Welcome from Jen Heal / Croeso gan Jen Heal

Welcome to the first Placemaking Wales newsletter.  Thank you for signing up to the Placemaking Wales Charter, a key initiative in the promotion of placemaking in Wales with over 70 signatories from the private, public and third sectors pledging their commitment to support the development of high-quality places.

Indeed, we were particularly pleased to announce Swansea Council as the second local authority in Wales to commit to building back better by signing the Wales Placemaking Charter. The news was welcomed by Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn. You can read more here.

The purpose of this newsletter is to showcase some of the great work that is taking place and share insights and best practice amongst fellow built environment professionals. This edition includes contributions from several members of the Placemaking Wales Partnership who helped shape the Charter. Their pieces have been very much influenced by the ongoing restrictions we are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic and how this has shaped the way we look at our homes and neighbourhoods. The articles cover the topics of homes, heritage and play and we are pleased to bring you a new case study which addresses all of these matters. You will also find new updates and details of some upcoming events.

It is clear that placemaking requires the dedication and expertise of all of those involved in shaping the built and natural environment, which is why the cross disciplinary nature of the chartership is so important and why we want to bring you inspiration and updates from sectors that you may not normally hear from.  I’ll be keen to hear your feedback and consider any suggestions that you have for future content – simply email me at

With my best wishes,


Croeso i gylchlythyr cyntaf Creu Lleoedd Cymru.  Diolch am gofrestru ar gyfer Siarter Creu Lleoedd Cymru, menter allweddol wrth hybu creu lleoedd yng Nghymru sydd â dros 70 wedi arwyddo o’r sector preifat, y sector cyhoeddus a’r trydydd sector gan addo eu hymrwymiad i gefnogi datblygiad lleoedd o ansawdd uchel.

Yn wir, rydym yn arbennig o falch o gyhoeddi fod Cyngor Abertawe yr ail awdurdod lleol yng Nghymru i ymrwymo i adeiladu yn ôl yn well trwy arwyddo Siarter Creu Lleoedd Cymru.  Cafodd y newyddion ei groesawu gan y Dirprwy Weinidog Tai a Llywodraeth Leol, Hannah Blythyn. Gallwch ddarllen mwy yma.

Diben y cylchlythyr hwn yw arddangos peth o’r gwaith gwych sy’n digwydd a rhannu mewnwelediad ac arfer orau ymysg cyd-weithwyr proffesiynol yn yr amgylchedd adeiledig. Mae’r argraffiad hwn yn cynnwys cyfraniadau oddi wrth sawl aelod o Bartneriaeth Creu Lleoedd Cymru a gynorthwyodd i ffurfio’r Siarter. Mae eu darnau wedi eu dylanwadu’n fawr iawn gan y cyfyngiadau parhaus yr ydym yn eu hwynebu oherwydd pandemig Covid-19 a sut mae hyn wedi siapio’r ffordd yr ydym yn gweld ein cartrefi a’n cymdogaethau. Mae’r erthyglau yn ymwneud â’r pynciau cartrefi, treftadaeth a chwarae ac rydym yn falch o gael dod ag astudiaeth achos newydd i chi sy’n mynd i’r afael â’r materion hyn i gyd. Cewch hefyd ddiweddariadau newydd a manylion o rai digwyddiadau sydd i ddod.

Mae’n glir bod creu lleoedd yn gofyn am ymrwymiad ac arbenigedd yr holl bobl hynny sy’n ymwneud â siapio’r amgylchedd adeiledig a naturiol, a dyma pam bod natur draws-ddisgyblaethol y siarter mor bwysig a pham yr ydym eisiau dod ag ysbrydoliaeth a diweddariadau i chi o sectorau na fyddech fel rheol efallai’n clywed ganddynt. Rwy’n edrych ymlaen am glywed eich adborth ac ystyried unrhyw awgrymiadau sydd gennych ar gyfer cynnwys y cylchlythyr yn y dyfodol – anfonwch e-bost ataf at

Dymuniadau gorau,



A story defined by home

Matt Dicks, Director CIH Cymru

Let’s all close our eyes for moment and imagine – imagine being a single parent during the Coronavirus lockdown, with two young children and living in a sixth-floor two-bedroom flat in the middle of a city with no green space nearby. The local shops are a 15-minute walk away with a baby in the pram and a toddler in tow, or do you risk a 5-min bus journey when there are several thousand new infections being reported every day.

Or imagine being a couple in a one-bed flat, both having to work from home, one in the bedroom, one on the kitchen-dinner table, and again no nearby green space and a long walk to the shops.

And there are many more examples I could list where the housing option and the design of the “place” where people are living are simply not fit-for-purpose in terms of coping with the demands of a lockdown imposed as a result of a global health emergency.

Sadly, some of you may not even have to imagine these scenarios, the pictures I paint may well be your lived experience during the past year.

But the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, if nothing else, have been a story defined by the home and our local environment because we have been consigned to them, in one way or another, for more than a year now.

The pandemic has shone an even brighter light on what we already knew to be the case, that in Wales we have an inadequate and broken housing system.  This has led to the need to temporarily house more than 5,000 people in Wales in bed & breakfast or hotel accommodation during the pandemic with the huge challenge of now finding them more permanent and sustainable homes as we navigate out of lockdown and aim to meet the Welsh Government’s ambition of none of these people being returned to homelessness. This is one symptom of a housing system which is buckling under the pressure of a chronic shortage of homes available at social rent. And this systemic and structural problem of supply is compounded by many poorly designed areas where the sense of place and more importantly a sense of agency within one’s own community is markedly lacking.

From a public health perspective, an Inside Housing Investigation demonstrated the correlation, during the first-wave of infections, between Covid-19 death rates and overcrowded housing, as well as increased mortality rates in HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupation)  settings, and in areas where there is a shortage of homes available at social rent which means many are forced into cramped temporary accommodation such as B&Bs etc.

In essence, it is a link between poverty (and the poor housing options and poorly designed environments available to people experiencing poverty) and an increased prevalence in infections and death rates.

Therefore, from a purely public health perspective, to ensure we’re equipped to cope with, heaven forbid, any future global pandemic we need to radically address our failed housing system which is fundamentally linked to how we think of and design “place”.

Coupled with that we also have the radical change in the way we now use our homes – for many of us they have also now become our workplace and are likely to remain that way for several years to come, if not on a permanent basis.

That is why, in our recent joint submission with Public Health Wales, to the Welsh Government’s “Beautiful Homes and Spaces” consultation on housing standards we called for:

  • A more holistic view of housing standards, recognising the need to ensure that standards reflect the impact the quality of a homes can have on both physical and mental well-being.
  • A focus on how lifestyles could change and the subsequent need to promote and enable active travel, reducing reliance on single-occupant car travel.
  • A focus on the role of ‘placemaking’ as a means to creating vibrant, accessible and inclusive environments that should go hand in hand with our expectations of housing standards.
  • A standard that applies across all tenures to create a joined-up vision of the homes and places created and support by a wide cross-section of housing development organisations.

If nothing else, the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we view the home – for many of us it is now our space for work as well as leisure – which means the centrality of home in the design of “place” takes on even more prominence in our post-COVID-19 world. It means all of us need to think differently about how our homes should be designed, the space standards that are now required, as well as what the local “place” needs to make our homes, communities and local environments fit for our new agile workforce.


Beyond parks and playgrounds

Marianne Mannello, Assistant Director, Play Wales

Play Wales recently held the Child-friendly planning and design: beyond TAN 16 seminar that brought together renowned speakers in the fields of children’s play, design, planning, rights and participation.  The seminar provided a brief overview of urban planning and how it relates to children and their play, with examples from the UK and around the world.  There was a focus on placing greater emphasis on children’s everyday lives and putting policy into practice.

Marianne Mannello is Assistant Director of Policy, Support and Advocacy for Play Wales. She explains: “A sense of place is important to help children and teenagers to feel part of their community and neighbourhood.   Quality residential design promotes community cohesion and should consider access to amenities and public spaces for all residents. It is therefore astonishing that all too often people, particularly children, come low down the priority list when it comes to new housing developments and there is often limited time given to thinking about how to generate community in new places.

“Children continue to tell us that outdoors is one of their favourite places to play. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the important role that access to good outdoor space has on health and well-being. Yet, when designing new housing developments or regenerating existing ones, the needs of children to play out, meet friends and get about safely are often overlooked.

“The seminar explored the impact that the planning process has in encouraging play and the positive social interactions it can generate in communities. It explored how we can work together to advocate for and enable the development of child friendly communities, thus contributing to healthier and happier childhoods. Although not easy, it is possible.

“The right skills are needed at the right stage of a project and the play sector in Wales has the expertise to galvanise and lead the way in thinking about how to work better for children. The emphasis on placemaking in Planning Policy for Wales supports a more holistic approach and there is a real opportunity to engage creatively across the play and planning sectors to learn from each other’s approaches and delivery models.

“Many of us have fond memories of growing up in a time when it was accepted that children, once they were old enough and confident enough to negotiate the outside world independently or with friends and siblings, played outside and ranged within their neighbourhoods freely. Children and teenagers across Wales are asking for the same – more time, space and permission to play in communities that care for them… that’s not too much to ask, surely?”

Further information is available at


Local Heritage in Placemaking

Judith Alfrey, Head of Regeneration and Conservation for Cadw

In a year of lockdowns, everyone has been thrown onto the resources of their immediate neighbourhood, an experience which has been a powerful reminder of the value of the local environment to communities. It has underlined the importance of supporting the development of high-quality places across Wales for the benefit of communities.

It has also perhaps enhanced the appeal of the concept of the 15-minute city, a place where everyone can meet most of their needs within just a short walk of their home. In the 15-minute city, people are reconnected with their local area, there is a strong sense of community, and less need for travel. Daily necessities and the services that support wellbeing are all within easy reach.

Cadw was inspired by this concept to think that everyone should be able to benefit from heritage within a 15-minute walk of their front door, wherever they live – whether city, town or countryside. Heritage is not always recognised that close to home: not everyone has a castle in their back yard and they may not even have a scheduled monument or a listed building nearby. But everywhere has a heritage of its own, and our 15-Minute Heritage initiative is intended to encourage people to step outside and explore the heritage on their doorstep.

We have begun by making use of StoryMap, a proprietary web-based platform which uses maps combined with narrative text, images, and other media to create digital stories of place.  The stories are being prepared by some of our own staff members, and will be made available on our website.

The premise of this story-telling is an invitation to go out and explore, and everywhere featured in the story should be publicly accessible on foot from a given starting point. The initiative therefore supports active travel, and the theme of movement which is one of the principles of the placemaking charter.

At the heart of the initiative is our belief that heritage makes places special and contributes to a unique identity.    Through telling stories of place, we can tease out the hidden histories, identify the attributes, and celebrate the culture from which distinctive identities are shaped.

In 2020 Cadw was also able to collaborate with the National Lottery Heritage Fund in a 15-minute heritage grant scheme.  Here, the invitation to explore was extended to local authorities and a range of third sector and community organisations leading small-scale projects helping to connect communities with heritage.  Projects in every local authority area in Wales are being supported through this scheme – their imaginative breadth is testament to the many ways in which local heritage may be defined and celebrated.

Exploring heritage in the streets and spaces of wherever we call home can be a way of strengthening attachment to place. But local heritage is about people as well as place:  every neighbourhood has been made and shaped by the people who have lived and worked there, and places take on meanings from the ways in which people experience and relate to them.  Sharing the exploration, and sharing these meanings, provides new opportunities for connecting people and place in local communities across Wales.


Evan James Memorial Caerphilly. One of our custodians has been finding out what puts Caerphilly on the map. It’s not just cheese and a castle:  within a short walk of the castle is a series of memorials to people from the town who have contributed to the history and culture of Wales. Evan James was the author of the lyrics of our National Anthem.


Case Study: Creating places that are safe, sustainable and attractive

Pobl tell us the placemaking story behind their proposed residential development in Newport.


Location: Land at Plot C1, Phoenix Park, Newport – Loftus Phase 2

Local Authority: Newport City Council

Client: Pobl Group

Design team:

  • Design: Hammond Architectural Ltd
  • Planning: Asbri Planning
  • Transport: Asbri Transport
  • Ecology: JBA Consultancy
  • Engineering: JBA Consultancy
  • Noise: Acoustic and Noise
  • Geotechnical: Integral Geotechnique
  • Landscape: Catherine Etchell Associates
  • Energy: Sero Homes & Energy
  • Manufacturing: Castleoak

Date of completion: TBC

Contract value: circa £11.4M

Site area: 1.89 hectares [4.67 acres]

Density: 29 units per hectare


People and Community

As with Loftus Garden Village, involving and engaging the local community is integral to this project.

From the outset Pobl Group outlined their aspirations to form a ‘natural extension’ to the award-winning Loftus Garden Village neighbourhood providing the new and existing community with an attractive place to come together, learn and grow.

Drawing on lessons learned from Phase 1 and informed by residents and stakeholder feedback, the attractive garden village, arts and craft style, green streets and kitchen garden network were identified as key components of the early concept designs.

As the project moves on, Pobl Group are committed to ongoing engagement which will include involving local schools, construction career engagement and regular community open site days. Pobl will also keep existing Loftus residents informed via regular updates on the dedicated Loftus website.

Opportunities to learn about sustainability, including enabling combustion free living, cutting-edge energy and drainage technology and biodiversity enhancement will form a central component to this engagement. In addition, employment and training opportunities will be created encouraging independence and inclusion in the community.


Understanding the place

Early identification of site constraints and opportunities informed the design process, helping to capture the full value of the site and create a development that is sustainable, accessible, and deliverable. The development is also strongly informed and directed by the original design principles generated for Loftus garden Village.

A good understanding of the context and character of the place was established during the Phase 1 development. The original garden village development was an opportunity to reflect on the past and create a new character for the area. Historic references to the site’s former uses were drawn upon, reflected in the naming of the development ‘Loftus’. The factory came to fame through Ruby Loftus, a young worker from Newport, who was painted by Dame Laura Knight to represent women at work for the war-time effort. The picture ‘Ruby Loft screwing a Breech-ring’, painted in 1943, was selected picture of the year at the Royal Academy Art show and attracted a considerable amount of public attention at that time.

Analysis of the site was prepared, guided and structured in accordance with the Welsh Government Site Context and Analysis Guide and TAN 12 Objectives of Good Design and informed the design from the outset.

A strong vision of place-led design principles was created to guide the development, building upon the success of the phase one development and championed the importance of low carbon living.

The site is sustainably located within an existing residential neighbourhood and is in walking distance of local amenities and schools. Key opportunities were identified to improve connectivity between the surrounding streets and community; address and enhance the “back land” nature of the site adjacent to the railway line; better integrate and connect natural elements; create spaces for leisure, social cohesion, and learning; locate, orientate and design for maximum solar gain; and champion lifetime homes principles and low carbon living.



The site will be served by a network of new and existing footpaths and cycleways that link to the wider area. The connecting routes will be attractive and comfortable, consistent with the encouragement of mobility for all.

A key pedestrian desire line exists between the two communities of Corporation Road and Somerton, via Soho Street underpass. The proposed scheme has enhanced this connect by realigning the existing PROW centrally through the site and providing an off-road pedestrian/cycle route straight though the heart of the site, along a new linear park.

Cycling is further promoted on the development with the integration of a Nextbike Station for public use on this route. Footpaths within the development actively connect and are further enhanced by the inclusion of green infrastructure throughout the development.


Mix of uses

The development will provide 54 homes comprising a mix of 1 bedroom apartments, 2 and 3 bedroom homes for social rent or shared ownership. Flexible ground floor design with two living areas gives the option to work from home. They will meet Welsh Government’ emerging ‘Beautiful Homes and Spaces’ Standards 2021.

The dwellings will sit in a well-connected network of open spaces comprising of different green space typologies. A comprehensive landscape, biodiversity and amenity strategy is proposed for the site, ensuring the integration of the development within wider open space, ecological and landscape features.

Additionally there will also be provision of community kitchen gardens that have worked successfully on Loftus Garden Village Phase One, providing space for people to come together and grow.


Public realm

Key concepts of placemaking, community focus, wellbeing and being closer to nature have driven the public realm strategy for the site.

The public realm and landscape proposals complement and extend the exceptional vision of the adjacent ‘Loftus’ development and exemplify the principles of a ‘Garden Village’ ethos.

The development will:

  • Provide a linear park providing an important cycling and walking link and opportunity for attractive planting.
  • Extend the Loftus ‘kitchen garden’ network for community food production and strengthen existing community initiatives by including a growing network.
  • Provide multi-functional open space for recreation, gatherings, events and food exchange.
  • Incorporate naturalistic, playful space with additional water attenuation allowing people to be close to nature, be active, or just sit in restful and restorative outdoor spaces.
  • Create doorstep play opportunities through creative public realm design, allowing children to develop and express themselves in a safe environment.
  • Embrace Green-Blue Street design principles creating attractive, safer environments and providing better environmental performance, integrating sustainable drainage and biodiversity benefit, while maximising opportunity for community interaction.
  • Incorporate planting that includes therapeutic species and that attract birds, insects and other wildlife.
  • Integrate rain gardens, further enhancing biodiversity, providing opportunity for tree avenues to balance the height of the houses, softening the street scene and improving microclimate.


Delivery structure

Pobl Group appointed a multidisciplinary team, including Hammond Architectural Ltd, to develop and design their Place-led vision for the site that embraces PPW10 and strive to meet the requirements of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015.

Both Pobl Group and Hammond Architectural Ltd are signatories to the Welsh Placemaking Charter and support and promote the six principles set out in the Charter.

As part of the ongoing design development process, the project team engaged with Newport Council officers and the Design Commission for Wales on how best to bring forward this site in a sustainable way.

A Section 2F – Pre Application Consultation Report (PAC) was prepared by Asbri Planning and feedback from this was taken on board where appropriate prior to submission.

The residential development will be brought forward by Pobl Group, an established, not for profit, social care and housing provider in Wales.

Collaboration with local suppliers, using Design for Manufacture principles established through partnership working and intelligent procurement are key features.

Collaborating with Wales-based off-site manufacturer Castleoak, the homes are ‘designed for manufacture’ with the aim of mainstreaming modern methods of construction (MMC). The design approach aims to maximise efficiency, flexibility and performance at every part of the supply, manufacture and delivery chain and recognizes that a good design interface can achieve good placemaking whilst also employing off-site/MMC.


Policy News

Future Wales

The Welsh Government published Future Wales: The National Plan 2040 on 24 February making it the first ever national development plan in the United Kingdom.

Future Wales is a long term plan setting out the Welsh Government’s strategic spatial outcomes; it integrates a wide range of policy goals; has been developed through a four year programme of extensive engagement and assessment; and its delivery will be driven by collaboration across the public, private and third sector.

Some of the main policy elements of Future Wales are:

  • Strategic growth should be focused in three national growth areas. Not all parts of Wales are expected to grow equally. Future Wales determines that growth should be focussed in established built up areas and in certain other places. In some growth areas there is a requirement to establish Green Belts to manage growth. National growth areas are complemented by regional growth areas spread throughout Wales.
  • A strong emphasis on sustainable placemaking. City and town centres will benefit from a town centre first policy which relates to commercial, retail, education, health and public service facilities.
  • In rural areas, growth patterns should be determined locally reflecting need.  The character, service provision and accessibility of places should determine the aspirations and plans for growth.  Future Wales prioritises vibrancy and quality of life over the pursuit of growth for its own sake.
  • Future Wales identifies where and how new major renewable energy development will be acceptable. This reflects the Welsh Government’s strong commitment to tackling climate change and the declaration of a climate emergency. It also identifies priority areas for district heat networks.
  • Future Wales sets out a framework for regional planning, identifying what Strategic Development Plans should look like and the policy areas they must address.
  • Flood risk in the growth areas should be addressed in a strategic way, while the plan places a strong emphasis on developing resilient ecological networks and green infrastructure.
  • There is a strong focus on delivering active travel, metro schemes and improving national connectivity. The transport policies complement the emerging Wales Transport Strategy – Llwybr Newydd.
  • A clear focus on the delivery of affordable housing helping to ensure that everyone has access to good housing.
  • Support for enhanced digital communications and a commitment to identify Mobile Action Zones where there is little or no mobile telecommunications coverage.
  • Support for the emerging National Forest, which will evolve over multiple sites across Wales.

Development management decisions, Strategic and Local Development Plans, planning appeals and all other work directed by the development plan will need to accord with Future Wales. This will ensure the planning system is aligned at all levels to work together to help achieve our objectives.

Future Wales provides clear direction for regional planning, requiring the preparation of Strategic Development Plans in the North, Mid Wales, South West and South East. The publication of Future Wales marks the beginning of this process, the implementation of Future Wales is key to ensure we achieve these outcomes.

Planning Policy Wales edition 11 changes

The publication of Future Wales has led to updates to Planning Policy Wales to ensure both documents align. The changes reflect wider legislative, policy and guidance updates along with:

  • Information about the Placemaking Wales Charter and the importance of requiring active travel and public transport infrastructure early in the development process.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic and Welsh Government’s Building Better Places document which pinpoints the most relevant planning policy priorities and actions to aid in the recovery. 

News in brief  

Public/cultural Reports

Caerphilly Castle Regeneration (April 21)

Press & Comment Press Releases

Swansea signs Wales Placemaking Charter

Reports Residential/housing

Narberth Road, Cardiff (March 21)

Press & Comment Press Releases

Appointments to the Design Commission for Wales

Comment Press & Comment

Opportunity to help DCFW Reimagine?

Reports Residential/housing

Ty Nant, Swansea (Feb 21)

Reports Residential/housing

Ysbyty Aberteifi, Cardigan (Feb 21)

Health Reports

Velindre Cancer Centre, Cardiff (Feb 21)

Reports Residential/housing

Glan Llyn, Newport (Jan 21)

Masterplan Mixed use Reports Residential/housing

Upper Cosmeston Farm, Penarth (Jan 21)


Design Commission publishes Places for Life II

Press & Comment Press Releases

Cyfarthfa Plan will reveal world importance of crucible of industrial revolution and work in harmony with nature.


Design Review Essentials


Consulting the Commission through DCFW’s Design Review Service

Mixed use Reports

Curran Embankment, Cardiff (Dec 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Talgarth School Site, Talgarth (Dec 20)

Public/cultural Reports

Caerphilly Castle Regeneration (Nov 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Canton Community Centre, Cardiff (Nov 20)

Mixed use Reports

151-153 Bute Street, Cardiff (Nov 20)

Comment Press & Comment

Commissioner Elinor Gray-Williams discusses how we can inspire sustainability and build resilience with WalesBusiness

Reports Residential/housing

Channel View Development, Cardiff (Oct 20)

Press & Comment Press Releases

Search is on for three new Design Commissioners for Wales

The Minister for Housing and Local Government is seeking three new Commissioners to join the Board of the Design Commission for Wales (DCFW).
Applicants have until 9 November to apply for one of the three roles that will help make Wales a better place by championing high standards of design and architecture. An appreciation of and a strong interest in good place-making, design and architecture is essential.
Chaired by Gayna Jones, DCFW was set up in 2002 by the Welsh Government as a public body working throughout Wales to promote good design for our places, buildings and public spaces. The remit of the Cardiff-based organisation is to work with local planning authorities, investors, developers and commissioning clients to capture the value of high quality design; helping to deliver better outcomes, a better return on investment and greater public good. DCFW also nurtures the design talent and skills necessary for growth and innovation.
The Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James said: “If we want to make Wales a better place we need talented professionals to bring their skills and experience to the Design Commission for Wales”.

“The creation of high quality new development is a key element of our national planning policies and the Design Commission for Wales plays a crucial role in supporting the Welsh Government’s objectives in this area.

“The Design Commission for Wales’ board ensures the good governance of the organisation and I am looking for new, enthusiastic people to join the existing team to carry on their good work in promoting good design in the built environment across Wales. By having a strong and diverse board we will achieve good design which everyone across Wales will benefit from and enjoy.”

Gayna Jones, Chair of DCFW said: “We’re confident that there are some hugely talented and inspirational built environment enthusiasts and professionals out there, with the skills and experience to add a new dimension to DCFW.

“With a remit spanning the whole of the built environment in Wales, we are an expert, multi-disciplinary team and benefit from a very strong Board who actively champion high standards of design and architecture, We’re really keen to welcome applications from those with a background in design, place-making and architecture and a passion for good design. Together, we can help make Wales a better place.”

For more information on the application process and to apply, please visit Please contact the Public Appointments Team at with any other queries.

Please see links below:

The role is also advertised on the Cabinet Office website at:

Reports Residential/housing

Creswell Road, Swansea – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Cedar Crescent, Swansea – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Ladyhill Day Centre, Newport – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Former Pirelli Cables Site, Newport – IHP (Sept 20)

Press & Comment Press Releases

The Placemaking Wales Charter

The Placemaking Wales Charter

Reports Residential/housing

Brynna Road, Brynna – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Pembroke Road, Pembroke Dock – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Heol Dinas Garage Site, Aberystwyth – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

North Wales Collaboration Project – IHP (Sept 20)

Comment Press & Comment Uncategorized

Good design is intelligent and that’s how we should build places to live if we want better homes – Carole-Anne Davies

Good design is intelligent and that’s how we should build places to live if we want better homes – Carole-Anne Davies

Reports Residential/housing

Ysgol Llaingoch, Holyhead – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Land off Kilvert View, Clyro – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Land r/o Goodrich Crescent, Newport – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Glasdir (2), Ruthin – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Victoria Street, Cwmbran (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Station Road, Letterston – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Northop former United Reformed Church – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Land at Sageston, Carew – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Glanwern House, Pontypool – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Caerphilly Homes Innovation Programme – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Pantmaenog Forest, Sir Benfro – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Tremains Halt, Bridgend – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Five Crosses, Bwlchgwyn, Wrexham – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Is Y Llan, Llanddarog – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Sandfields redevelopment, Port Talbot – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Congregate Living, Monmouthshire Housing – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Plas Penrhyn, Penrhyn Bay – IHP (Sept 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Plot D9B, SA1, Swansea – IHP (Sept 20)

Comment Press & Comment

DCFW comment on Pier Pavilion, Llandudno (Aug 20)


Mixed use Reports

Pier Pavilion, Llandudno – Desktop review (Aug 20)

Comment Press & Comment

DCFW’s response to Viridor proposal (Aug 20)

Reports Residential/housing

Land North of Marine Parade, Broad Haven (Aug 20)

Comment Press & Comment

19/03053/MNR 4 Dock Chambers – Part change of use (Aug 20)

Masterplan Reports

Bridgend Town Centre Masterplan (July 20)

Infrastructure Reports

Buttington Energy Recovery Facility, Welshpool (July 20)

Commercial Reports

Three Horse Shoes, Trecastle (July 20)

Comment Press & Comment

Statement in response to the interim report from South East Wales Transport Commission

Carole-Anne Davies, Chief Executive of the Design Commission for Wales has welcomed the publication of the interim report of the South East Wales Transport Commission . She said: “The South East Wales Transport Commission is considering how to reduce congestion, aid connectivity and demonstrate the need to consider transport and land-use planning comprehensively.

“As the Design Commission for Wales, we fully support efforts to align transport and land-use planning fully and strategically. As demonstrated in our collaborative 2019 Transit Orientated Development charette, we are working with Welsh Government, the Cardiff Capital Region, local authorities and Transport for Wales to help ensure that future investment in placemaking is well coordinated and aligned.

“Our work on placemaking through the Placemaking Partnership and emerging Placemaking Charter highlights the location of development and a movement hierarchy that promotes active travel and public transport as critical elements for success. It is, therefore, encouraging to see the emerging recommendations seeking to establish a network that will increase the modal share of public transport and active travel in the region, making it an attractive and viable alternative to private vehicle use.”

You can read the interim report here

Comment Press & Comment

Statement in response to the publication of Building Better Places

Jen Heal, Design Advisor at the Design Commission for Wales has welcomed the publication of Building Better Places. She said: “The planning system can help deliver a more resilient and brighter future for Wales.

“Recent months have shown us just how places and placemaking can make a real difference to our quality of life, our well-being and our economy. The planning system is central to this so we very much welcome the publication and confirmation of the commitment to quality and placemaking.

“As the Design Commission for Wales, we continue to work with design teams, local authorities, and developers to help deliver better places through good design. This includes our work with Welsh Government on the development of a specific strategic design review service for local development plans to ensure that strategic placemaking decisions help achieve the best outcomes.

“We’re also continuing to support the Placemaking Wales Partnership. In all our work right now we are also aiming to apply what we’ve learned throughout the most difficult months and promote better outcomes for all as we work together with Welsh Government to assist recovery.”

The Welsh Government publication can be read here.

Infrastructure Reports

A40 Llanddewi Velfrey to Penblewin – Redstone Cross (July 20)

Case Studies Public / Cultural

Galeri Phase 3 – Cinema Extension, Caernarfon

Three main phases of development have brought about the Galeri Caernarfon, from its original conception as the Creative Enterprise Centre to the multi-use performing and visual arts, education and business hub that it is today. They could not have been possible without the vision and commitment of the client body, Galeri Caernarfon Cyf Development Trust, and in particular their chief executive, and their ongoing vision that “anything is possible…through creative thought and sustainable action”.

To realise this vision, Galeri selected a design team of outstanding calibre, capable of producing a building which would be both appropriate to both its historic setting on the Victoria Doc quayside, overlooking the Menai Strait, and inspirational in its external and internal design so that it would aid the economic resurgence of the town. The success of the relationship between client and architect was such that they have now worked together on all three phases of the project to date, gaining widespread recognition and many awards, for the project and its impact.

Key Sustainability Points
The principal aims of The Energy Conservation & Management Strategy for the Building were to exceed current environmental legislation and approved codes of practice in line with the client’s aspirations for the building, thereby minimising raw energy consumption as far as is practicable and commercially viable.

Client testimonial
The original vision for Galeri was of a centre that would be alive with professional and community activities put together through creative partnerships with a range of organisations and individuals. It was to be a theatre but also, in order to ensure financial and creative sustainability, a hub for the arts and the creative industries in northwest Wales. Rentable studio and meeting spaces were additional in-built revenue generators as was the cafe and bar areas. The latter also being a vital element in the perception of Galeri as an informal social space open to all.
Since the original building opened in 2005, we have employed Richard Murphy Architects to successfully extend our theatre space in 2010 and we returned to them again in 2014 to design an extension to Galeri which now contains two new film theatres with seating capacities of 119 and 65 respectively at first floor level, above a new public entrance to the whole building a reception and new office and meeting space together with a shop and more creative and meeting spaces. This enables Galeri to release the existing 396 seat theatre for more mainstream events whilst at the same time enabling us to programme the latest cinema offerings on the date of release.
The extension was officially opened by the actor Rhys Ifans in September 2018 to unanimous popular acclaim. The extension has completed the Centre and, although a period of 15 years separates the original building from the extension, the design makes it feel seamless both externally and internally.
Whilst the new cinema and other spaces serve more than one artistic and commercial purpose its main effect has been in transforming the whole feeling or “vibe” in Galeri and in raising the perception of the Centre as a place where there is always something happening.
As always, working in a constricted physical space with a requirement to maintain full access to a functioning, publicly accessible building had its challenges. Working with a familiar and trusted architect enabled ourselves, as clients, and the whole team to meet those challenges successfully and to deliver another new quality addition to the built environment of the historic town of Caernarfon.

Case Studies

M-SParc (Menai Science Park), Anglesey

M-SParc (Menai Science Park) is the first dedicated science park in Wales with a focus on the low carbon energy, ICT and environmental sectors. The first landmark facility situated at the heart of the campus provides co-working space with offices, laboratories and workshops for a range of new and established businesses. The building brings these entities together within a collaborative workplace environment, capitalising on the exceptional natural setting to inspire innovation.

It has long been recognised that universities play a pivotal role in supporting industry and driving innovation; Bangor University is no exception. Together with the Welsh Government, the university took a bold step to establish this new science park on Anglesey to support emerging and mature businesses in the science and technology sector.

Located a few miles west of the Menai Straits, M-SParc is strategically located close to the main arterial route through the island, providing strong connections to a number of established low carbon energy and environmental businesses, not least of which is Wylfa, the site of a major nuclear power plant.

Planning and Design Process

Critical to the success of the scheme was the creation of a strong commercial community that would benefit from shared knowledge and expertise. This informed the decision to introduce a vibrant central hub into the building to act as a touch-down space, events venue and meeting point.

This ‘open innovation space’ forms the start and end point of a circulation ring linking all of the individual tenancies. It is defined by the concept of a folded ribbon of white material which extends out of the surrounding landscape, twists and bends to form the edges of the space, before arcing back down into the site. Thermoformed Corian, a material typically used in laboratory benching, offered the right combination of plasticity and durability to create the ribbon in the form of fluid rainscreen panels. The dynamic ribbon delivers visual impact and provides a clear front door through the open innovation space. This contrasts with the more mannered brick structure of the tenancy workspaces designed for efficiency to enable a low-cost rental offer for fledgling businesses.

Inside, the open innovation space captures many of the features which define the ‘co-working’ revolution in office space, with touch-down areas, events and meeting facilities, and a cafe. The folding white ribbon of the open innovation space frames the spectacular backdrop of the Snowdonia mountain range located a few miles to the south east.

With a focus on science and technology, the individual tenancy spaces have been designed around the concept of a universal science building, one that can adapt and respond to a wide range of work settings, using a carefully arranged building grid and servicing strategy. A central courtyard is surrounded by a ring of flexible laboratory and workshop spaces set out on a wider structural grid. A spine over the central corridor delivers essential services to these spaces whilst external risers can deliver additional ventilation and piped services to support more intensive laboratory activities. A range of office workspace is distributed around the external perimeter. Large glazed panels providing a generous amount of natural light and maximising views to the surrounding countryside and natural ventilation enhances the high-quality work environment.

The internal courtyard is a shared resource accessible from the open innovation space and the circulation ring, and is regularly used for ‘innovation community’ events and social meets.

Key Sustainability Points

The brief for the building was to outwardly celebrate and embody the sustainability ethos and credentials of M-Sparc and the companies that operate there, many working within the fields of sustainability and green energy.
The efficiency of the building envelope is maximised as the first priority to minimise the reliance on building services. Passivhaus principles are adopted as a starting point, with enhanced U-Values for all building elements, and an airtightness target of 3m3/h/m² for the whole envelope. The use of natural ventilation is maximised where possible, subject to functional space requirements such as lab ventilation.
The efficiency of building services was reviewed as the second priority to minimise energy use. Natural ventilation is supplemented by a mixed mode mechanical ventilation and cooling system. Natural daylighting is maximised with high soffits and a lack of suspended ceilings. Artificial lighting energy use is controlled by absence detection and daylight dimming.
LZC technologies have been fully integrated into the building. An LZC feasibility study established that photovoltaic cells were the most appropriate technology. Rather than placing these on the roof, they have been celebrated as a visible indication of M-SParc’s green credentials by integrating them within the landscape.
The building achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating with an EPC of A.


“It is rare that a brief is met so well as this one. The building had to inspire people as soon as they walked in, and it is to the credit of FaulknerBrowns that we see people commenting—almost daily, it is no exaggeration to say—what a ‘buzz’ there is once you step in the door. It is not just the shiny new-ness of it; we are years after opening now and people are still uplifted when they walk in. It truly is a space people want to work in, and we couldn’t ask for a better team to bring this vision to life.”      Pryderi ap Rhisiart – Managing Director at M-Sparc

Case Studies Commercial / Mixed Use

Canolfan S4C Yr Egin, Carmarthen

Canolfan S4C Yr Egin is a new 3,600sqm (net) headquarters and media-hub on the Carmarthen campus of University of Wales Trinity Saint David. It is the realization of a vision to bring together the creative, digital and cultural industries in west Wales and provide space for S4C television and other creative, ‘digital practitioners’ who will exchange information, innovate, create jobs and promote the Welsh language.

BDP designed Yr Egin in collaboration with the Carmarthen office of Rural Office for Architecture. Together, they created an exciting, elegant building which responds uniquely to the brief as well as the surrounding Welsh countryside.

Design and Planning Process
The design is the result of collaboration between BDP and Rural Office for Architecture and is based on the close relationship among the University, tenants and wider community. The three-way relationship is reflected in the simple triangular form that grows from Carmarthenshire’s soil. The tripartite arrangement is also reflected in the materials used with the smooth, glass form of the office space floating over a solid ground floor plinth which reflects the surrounding Carmarthen landscape.

The internal layout of the building is focused on a public foyer and atrium that links the three floors. The ground floor contains a café, broadcasting and performance space for the use of tenants and community groups. The layout encourages collaboration, communication and interaction among all users of the building; it’s where ideas are shared and developed, and acts as an incubator both for the establishment of new companies and a new generation of creative and technical people.

Key Sustainability Points

This low-energy, BREEAM Excellent building uses the shallow plan and flexible floor-plate to great effect through maximizing natural light and natural ventilation. The atrium provides essential stack-effect and input from M&E consultants, McCann, determined the free area required and most advantageous routes for ventilation flow. Requirements were facilitated by adjustments to the structural and architectural solutions with beam sizes altered and bulkheads adapted. Cost-in-use is optimised by bio-climatic design that minimises energy use; the BEMS controlled natural ventilation system, low emissivity glazing and high levels of insulation contribute to a Class A EPC rating. CIBSE TM52 & TM54 modelling was undertaken to inform the design and forecast future running costs.


“We love being here! There is always such a buzz in the building and there always seems to be interesting events planned in the Atrium at lunchtime; our staff never want to leave!”
Louise Harris, Director, Big Learning Company
“The centre will be the destination of choice with new enterprise hubs and high skill accelerator schemes to grow new businesses linked to the university’s portfolio. It will develop the skills of existing businesses and attract new investment into the region”
Gwilym Dyfri Jones – Associate Pro Vice Chancellor Trinity St David Carmarthen


Case Studies Residential / Housing

Old Farm Mews, Dinas Powis

Four family homes of varying size on a narrow, steeply sloping brownfield site reflect an evolution of house typology responding to the siteʼs historic character. Employing a series of overlapping and interlocking volumes offers a legible, rhythmic, sequence of spaces. Seen together as a single, highly articulated composition, the houses assume the clarity and integrity of a genuine village street.

Design and Planning Process

With a location in a village Conservation Area, the architectural challenge was to provide four family homes of varying size on a narrow, steeply sloping brownfield site. Vacant for 30 years the site’s previous occupant was a petrol filling station and garage.
Contemporary design reflecting an evolution of house typology was a central client objective. Materials and form therefore reflect architectural currency but also respond to the site’s historic character, while providing dwellings that will meet future environmental standards.
The two semi-detached dwellings form a narrow frontage onto Station Road and repair the disconnection of the existing street. Together with local village facilities including a village hall, convenience store, bakery, restaurant, post office and three public houses, they complete an architectural embrace to the village square. To the north and west the site adjoins rear parking courts to adjacent flats. Seen as a new village mews, buildings are set in linear form to create a rhythm along the sloping axis of the site.
Each block contains a visually robust base topped by floating, integrated volumes. These project or recede, in response to the physical needs (shading, shelter, privacy, access to natural light) of the development itself and of neighbouring dwellings.
Accommodation is arranged over three floors with efficient layering of amenity space above functional spaces such as stores and car parking. Garden decks, roof top planting and intimate ground level courts, which are accessed from the main living areas, are irrigated as part of a rainwater attenuation system. These are resource efficient buildings, which harness passive solar gain and have a highly insulated fabric.
Construction of the building envelopes is timber frame. External cladding is a combination of rubble stone, render and pre-patinated zinc. Roofs are single ply PVC membrane, with areas of sedum and paving. Balcony Screens are Iroko and Windows are ‘Velfac 200’. Courtyards are enclosed by rubble stone walls.
Despite the 1 in 10 site gradient, level thresholds and ambulant accessible steps were employed. Inclusive design was ensured through the adaptability of all dwellings and their flexibility in use.
When planning permission for the project was sought, previously obtained permissions for commercial/mixed-use developments had lapsed. The site lies in the centre of a Conservation Area, immediately adjacent to a Grade II listed building and was subject to twelve Party Wall Notices. In addition, Old Farm Mews which provides vehicle access to the site and six adjacent dwellings, was subject to an outstanding Section 38 agreement with Vale of Glamorgan Council and is now adopted.
All of these issues were successfully resolved by the architect and despite the contemporary nature of the design, the project enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the planning authority’s Conservation Architect.

Key Sustainability Points

A holistic approach was taken to sustainability. This vacant, brown-field site situated in the heart of Dinas Powys village provided an opportunity for an infill housing development in an area of high demand. The high-density scheme offers four new houses to support a range of household sizes, ages and incomes. This proposal adds to mix of houses and flats that exist in the village reinforcing the social and cultural benefits of a mixed community. In addition, the new homes are now subject to different tenures of ownership and private rental.

Located on the site of a former petrol station, which had been vacant since 1983, the site is in close proximity to shops and amenities minimising the need for occupants to travel, especially by car. Public transport links are very good, with a bus stop within metres and the railway station a few minutes walk away.

Providing a mix of dwellings designed with flexibility of use anticipates that the occupants will have different needs over time and promotes the opportunity for home office arrangements.

At 70 dwellings per hectare, the density reduces the demand on other land. Four houses of 65sqm, 111sqm, 166sqm and 216sqm respectively give a total for residential accommodation (including carports) of 558sqm on a site area of 507sqm. Attenuation of rainwater run-off via sedum roofs, roof terraces and soak-aways are employed. All houses are metered and dual flush sanitary ware is installed.

New low energy street lighting replaced existing lighting under the agreed proposals for the road adoption contract. Movement within the development is along the current shared surface access with places of refuge provided for pedestrians along the southern edge of the new dwellings.

The quality of the materials employed and the rigorous design, enhance the quality of the environment. The project seeks to be an exemplar of sustainable design from an environmental, social and economic perspective and aims to encourage pride and cohesion in the community.

Jacqui Walmsley RIBA, Studio Walmsley Architects,
Karen Hoole RIBA, Hoole Studio,–gorffennaf-2014.html

Case Studies Public / Cultural

Gweithdy, St Fagan’s National Museum of History, Cardiff

Gweithdy celebrates the culture, heritage and skills of Welsh craft in a new gallery, workshop and visitor hub for St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff.
Translating from the Welsh as ‘workshop’ or ‘made by hand’, Gweithdy provides flexible gallery, workshop and demonstration spaces for a huge range of craft, science and archaeology activities and a hands-on exhibitions and learning activities. The exhibition highlights objects and materials from the National Museum of Wales collections that have become synonymous with Wales, its cultural richness, arts craft and making traditions.
Sensitive to its context Gweithdy is designed with environmental responsibility to the fore, drawing upon the collections in its form and materiality so that it is fully integrated into the renewed Edwardian woodland landscape setting at St Fagans.
Gweithdy is designed to be a hands-on, skill sharing experience where visitors experience the thrill of making for themselves, inspired by the skills of the past.
The educational programme puts learning at the heart of the building, not just the fit-out. The brief for the building was developed in line with the vision of the National Museum of Wales as an inclusive, participatory place for people.
The new building is located in the wooded landscape, deep in heart of this open air museum adding to the sense of discovery and delight.

Planning and Design Process
Among the client’s needs set out in the brief for Gweithdy are:

• A unique setting for learning, combining archaeology, history, oral testimony and intangible heritage in an open-air museum
• Engaging hitherto unrepresented communities and excluded audiences through a programme of co-curation, participation and collaboration
• More widely engaging with people in communities throughout Wales through digital and collaborative programmes
• Enabling people worldwide to participate in the Museum’s programmes and contribute to its work through digital media.
• Using the project to drive organisational and cultural change across Amgueddfa Cymru
• Being an exemplar of environmental sustainability in all its activities
• Contributing to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of Wales
• Encouraging visitors to take part, invent, design, experiment and build.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios developed their design approach based around the client’s brief, focusing on three main spaces within the new building and a number of areas required to service these. The major spaces within the building are:

Main Activity Space: The activity space, the largest space within the building at 480m2 is the main public exhibition space. The exhibition contains a variety of hands-on exhibits mixed with case-based artefacts from the museum collection. The space also contains an integrated group activity area large enough to house larger groups and a class of children.

The theme of the gallery is ‘Making History by Hand’ celebrating the skills of makers and encouraging visitors to learn these skills themselves. It is a hands-on, brains-on space which celebrates the creativity of our users, allowing them to draw inspiration from the products of past craftspeople and use it to make artefacts that reflect their own lives and experience.

Wet Activity Room
The Wet Activity Room provides a physical space for museum staff, artists and craftspeople to share their expertise with users. The activities within reflect and drive the Museum’s aim to provide opportunities for collaborative working, skill sharing and inspiring creativity.

Providing a physical connection between the space, the collections and the outdoor environment is key. The range and breadth of public programmes and collaborations are visible for all who visit the new building. Work produced within the space can be displayed in the external display settings. The space contains workshop facilities and also a kiln. This space can be used for both school groups and for paid courses or private functions. It has a direct access to the outdoor classroom and the event space.

Café Foyer
The cafe space is adjacent to the entrance and is important to the building both as a revenue generator and as a draw to get people into the building and the activity spaces. The cafe seats around 50 people with a provision for further outdoor seating during good weather.

The building also contains a reception area, toilet provision (including an accessible WC, a family WC and a changing place) and showers which can be used for those staying overnight in the experimental archaeology areas.

The Design
The outline of the building follows the line of the former Edwardian landscaped ‘rides’ on the south elevation and the west elevation. The triangular form of the building is cut off at the south end in response to the existing circular clearing. A bridge link across the medieval way follows the line and width of the minor ride whilst also providing an entrance to the building.

Gweithdy is wrapped in a skin which changes in reflectivity, transparency and opacity across the facade. The sharp lines of the glazing contrast with the organic nature of the site whilst the reflectivity breaks down the mass of the building by reflecting back its surroundings. The building skin is softened by using vertical timber battens which blur the edges between the light and dark reflective areas.

Split into two volumes, the higher element of the building, over the main activity space, requires a 5m floor to ceiling height, and is clad in wholly mirrored and fritted glazing above the continuous skin, to help blur the distinction between sky, building and trees.

The building is intended to sit lightly in the landscape and be enveloped by the natural vegetation which surrounds it over time. The proposals create relationships with a number of the rides and clearings from the 1908 landscape plan. The most important of these relationships is with the major clearing to the north west of the building which will become a flexible space which can be used as a performance venue.

A Conservation Landscape Management Plan produced for the Gweithdy development covered the future management for protected features and management of new lowland woodland planting and the existing forest habitats.

The roof structure over the main activity space is a semi-gridshell roof constructed from glu-laminated (GluLam) timber boxes and painted primary steelwork. The GluLam boxes act structurally to support the span of the roof and are ‘stitched’ together via a series of stainless steel dowels. These boxes are seen as an expression of the philosophy of the building, and their making is celebrated via box jointed corners, a jointing technique deliberately borrowed from the furniture industry. This is a deliberate attempt to create a synergy between the architecture and the exhibits on display in the gallery and as such a celebration of the making process involved in the building. They are filled with demountable acoustic panels which house electrical services such as smoke detectors, ambient background lighting and CCTV cameras.

Key Sustainability Points
The building targeted BREEAM Excellent against a bespoke set of BREEAM 2008 New Construction criteria to evidence its sustainability credentials. The forest location inspired a sustainable design and building form to tie in with the surroundings while the internal environment needed to be suitable for the museum pieces.

The building design and services strategy can deliver thermal comfort levels in accordance with CIBSE Guide A Environmental Design.

In line with best practice and adaption to climate change, the car park includes SUDS in the form of infiltration trenches and stormwater cells, designed to store the stormwater within the cellular units, allowing the stormwater to infiltrate to ground with an overflow pipe which discharges overland to the wooded area to the south of the car park. This allows a 1 in 100 year storm event plus a 20% allowance for climate change.

Gweithdy embraced the fabric first approach and significantly improved on the u-values required by building regulations. The building includes a sophisticated building management system with extensive energy metering to allow the Museum and facilities staff to ensure the building operates at optimum performance and identify where performance can be improved.

The building includes an air source heat pump which provides its renewables contribution and with the decarbonisation of the electricity grid will enable the building to continue to lower its carbon emissions.

The building includes a 12,000l/12m3 rainwater harvesting tank which meets 63% of the total predicted flushing demand for building for the best practice defined period of collection. To educate staff and visitors, the system is linked to the BMS to update and inform users of the savings made using the rainwater system.

In line with this, Gweithdy has been fitted with low flow sanitaryware including sensor taps, dual flush WCs and waterless urinals as well as shut off systems to the toilet areas when not occupied to reduce water consumption in use.

A Conservation Landscape Management Plan produced for the Gweithdy development covered the future management for protected features and management of new lowland woodland planting and the existing forest habitats.


“We appointed Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios to lead on the work of designing a new gallery building ‘Y Gweithdy’ within the Pettigrew designed listed landscape of St Fagans National Museum of History’ as part of the £30m Creu Hanes Making History project – one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.
FCBStudios succeeded in designing a delightful building which has been very well received by Museum visitors. It sits comfortably within the wooded landscape of the open air museum and acts as a portal for visitors to discover the new experimental archaeology recreated buildings on site. The design of the Building achieves a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating and successfully maintains stable environmental conditions through passive design for the display of museum collections. The attention to detail by FCBStudios successfully supports the collections and interpretation in the gallery and workshop studio in celebrating craftsmanship.
We now have facilities which consolidates St Fagans National History Museum’s position as one of Europe’s leading open air museums.”
Elfyn Hughes, Head of Buildings, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

‘Gweithdy’ is the Welsh word for ‘workshop’ – and this pavilion, set within the 19th Century woodland landscape of St Fagans open air museum, acts as a focal point for visitors and draws more people further into the museum park, in its location at a key crossing-point of paths on the site.
The building celebrates the culture, heritage, and skills of Welsh craft in a new gallery, workshop, and visitor hub; including a new coffee shop and visitor toilets.
It provides flexible workshop and demonstration spaces for over 500 items from the craft and archaeology collections of the National Museum of History, with a real focus on the tangible and ‘hands-on’ exhibition opportunities, both inside and outside.
A built-in forge under cover of the building canopy is used for metalwork demonstrations and other heavy crafts activities. The generous layout and provision of spaces internally, coupled with large clear span openings, serve the building users and visitors well.
The building is eloquently and calmly set out through a very simple triangular plan and longitudinal form. The client’s wishes were to avoid a Design & Build Contract, so that the details could be fully controlled on site. The use of repetitive patterns and timber signatures to help screen and camouflage the glazing, the provisions of a subdued palette, and use of natural materials, all help integrate the building in its woodland setting with great sophistication.
Internally, the main exhibition space includes large open spans and big structural openings, and the visible glulam structure contrasts with the hands-on, highly carved, and tactile displays on the floor directly below. The judging panel thought hard about whether this roof structure may have been better with a more hands-on, hand-made approach; but agreed ultimately that the clear spans and clear contrast in material use better complemented the current use of the building.
. The building has been designed to be a simple, but environmentally responsive form, and it does not fail to deliver this ambition in its calm, simple, and sustainable execution.
RSAW Awards Judges


Case Studies Commercial / Mixed Use

BBC Cymru Wales Headquarters, Cardiff

The BBC Cymru Wales Headquarters brings together a wide variety of studio, administration and support spaces in a single building. Open to the city, the highly flexible, energy efficient space provides a creative, collaborative and inspiring workplace for BBC staff. Located opposite Cardiff Central Station, the project occupies the site of the former bus station, creating a dynamic principal building for Central Square, a major new space for the city. The Design Commission for Wales worked closely with representatives of BBC Cymru Wales, Rightacres Property, Cardiff Council, Foster + Partners design team throughout.

Planning and Design Process
As a workplace the key focus was to create an environment where it is a joy to work, enabling staff and departments to work more collaboratively in open, shared and flexible creative spaces. We also wanted to enhance the visitor experience to strengthen the relationship between the BBC and their audiences.
The innovative spirit of the project is defined by the BBC’s vision to be the most creative organisation in the world, its commitment to create genuine public engagement and the idea to create an open and attractive workplace. Broadcasting studios usually require a controlled environment for operations, yet, the building manages to achieve the contrasting aims of the project to open up to the public as well as provide a high quality broadcasting hub for BBC Wales.

The objective for the new working environment to be one of the BBC’s most efficient and cost-effective workplaces, delivering increased value for money to the license fee payer, as well as the innovative nature of elements of the project, required the input of specialist trade contractors from an early stage of the design development work. This led to a collaborative ‘Design and Build’ approach being selected as the most appropriate form of procurement. Early engagement with the sub-contractors and a close-knit collaborative relationship between the developer, design team, main contractor and occupier enabled the project to be delivered on time and to budget.
Close collaboration between the client and the design team, including the developer, meant that the ‘Hot and Heavy’ elements, such as the fixed parts for the TV studios, could be procured along with the other base-build elements, during the construction process. This not only ensured cost savings, but also reduced delays in the process.

Another key aspiration of the project was to give back to the city. Vibrant city spaces are predicated on two major qualities: a density of users and a diversity of activities. Edged by the Principality Stadium, a cultural landmark, Cardiff’s popular retail heart and the busy Cardiff Central, the BBC Cymru Wales site met all prerequisites to form a vital urban space.

The challenge was to restore a sense of place and connection to the city that had been lost over time. The relocation of BBC Cymru Wales acted as a catalyst for change, creating the opportunity to regenerate a historic site and unlock the heart to the city – a chance to provide the welcome that Cardiff deserved.

Key Sustainability Points
• High performance envelope – to meet BREEAM regulations, 40% above Building Regulations Part L
• Rainwater harvesting with a 140,000-litre storage tank
• Low-flow sanitaryware providing a 68% improvement over the BREEAM baseline
• 400 square-metres of photovoltaic panels on the roof
• Daylight provision – through floorplate design and roof light
• Roof garden to enhance biodiversity and ecology as well as provision of outdoor space in a city centre location
• Active chilled beams that use less energy than a traditional fan coil system
• Very high-performance acoustics
• Provision of cycle storage and facilities with separate and safe entrance, 200 bike spaces, showers, changing and drying room facilities
• Provision for electric car parking
The building has been awarded BREEAM Outstanding Interim Certificate – Design Stage with a score of 87.2% and is on track to achieve BREEAM Outstanding. This achievement further demonstrates the collaborative and joined up approach of the BBC and the developer’s team.


Director of BBC Wales Rhodri Talfan Davies said: “This is the next exciting step in the journey as BBC Wales prepares to move to its new home. We’re thrilled by the progress to date and excited by the prospect of the relocation of our teams toward the end of 2019. Our developers, Rightacres, have been a terrific partner and have created a home that I know will inspire and excite our teams for years to come.”

BBC Director of Property, Alan Bainbridge said: “To hand a building over of this scale and complexity exactly on time and budget is an amazing achievement. We signed the agreement for lease back in December 2014 and the predicted handover date was today – it has been a fantastic effort by all parties and we now look forward to completing the fit-out ready for occupation next year.”

Chief Executive of Rightacres, Paul McCarthy added: “The completion of Three Central Square is testament to the successful partnership between ourselves as developer, BBC Workplace, Cardiff Council and Legal & General. It marks an important milestone in the development of Central Square and has been a team effort from start to finish.”


Case Studies Public / Cultural

Copper Kingdom, Amlwch

Situated on the north coast of Yny Môn, Anglesey, Amlwch is home to one of the most historic ports in Wales and includes several Scheduled and Listed Monuments in its waterside Conservation Area.

Menter Môn and Amlwch Industrial Heritage Trust wished to provide a centrepiece to the port, and a recognisable image to create a destination which was consciously identifiable with Amlwch and its natural and built setting. Following the earlier Heritage Lottery Funded development plan for the port, Donald Insall Associates were commissioned to design this new visitor centre.

The main features of the centre were designed through carrying out innovative interpretations of the site and its context, offering a uniquely authentic building. The client consulted the Archaeological Trust so as to fully understand the site’s features, focusing on delivering key analogies of the historic relics of Amlwch Port within the new forms, materials and circulation, in order to provide visitors with a creative understanding of the built and natural environment and rich industrial heritage of Amlwch.

Design and Planning Process
The relics of six copper bins stood on the quay side. The project team decided that the last remaining roofed bin would form the core of the visitor centre. The new extension is within the floor plan of the existing copper bin and masonry, but the new form is delicately distinguished from the existing fabric by a linear composition of copper wraps around the elevations with new windows forming a seamless part of the design.

An excavated rock face ran along the rear of the copper bins, completely covered in ivy. In the existing roofed bin, a concrete block wall had been erected that obscured the rock face from view.

The exposed rock face was a key element in understanding the site and telling its story. Copper ore was once tipped down the rock face to the quay side, and beneath the ivy was evidence of historic mechanical fixings and copper ore staining.

Pulling the concrete block wall down to reveal and expose the rock face beyond would help illustrate the context of the site and amplify the setting of Parys Mountain, while providing an indoor visitor experience. Revealing the rock face was not an insignificant decision and proved the most demanding design and detailing challenge of the whole project.

Key Sustainability Points
In this context sustainability embraces three main areas. First is the notion of stewardship of the historic environment for the benefit of future generations. Secondly, the aim of minimising the use of non-renewable resources and reducing impact on the climate or other aspects of ecosystems. Finally, it addresses the financial and technical realities of carrying out conservation and alteration now and for the foreseeable future.

The project demonstrates careful conservation of a Grade II-listed historic monument to strict conservation standards, juxtaposed with a rich and tactile palette of new and natural materials. The decision not to re-point and clean the rock face of staining and archaeological leftovers internally was of equal importance to the painstaking conservation of pointing. Accepting the bins as industrial sheds, crude in form, wet, and imperfect – was absolutely integral to the Amlwch Industrial Heritage Trust’s vison and philosophy in delivering a truly authentic interpretation of the copper industry.


“We believe the design of the copper bins utilises some strong interpretative analogies: the timber chutes, the use of copper cladding, and exposing the rock face as a central idea behind the design thinking. The concept appears to have realised the challenge of combining a functional space with architectural concepts that relate to the heritage we are interpreting based on the copper mining industry of Amlwch.” Neil Johnstone, Heritage Manager, Menter Môn


Copper Kingdom Visitor Centre

Comment Reports

Neuadd Maldwyn, Welshpool (Comment July 20)

Case Studies Commercial / Mixed Use

Tramshed, Cardiff

In the summer of 2014 Cardiff Council invited expressions of interest in developing the former redundant industrial Tram depot in Grangetwon, with a view to redeveloping the 0.5 acre land and building into a thriving mixed-use facility that would support both existing and future growing communities.

Located at the junction of Clare Road and Pendyris Street, the building is Grade II listed, due to its importance to the preservation of the history of the transport system in Cardiff. The depot was built between 1900 and 1902, originally to store trams, operated by the Corporation of Cardiff, later converted to store trolley buses, and later again used as the central workshop for vehicle maintenance to the City of Cardiff operational services.

The new development, Tramshed, by Loft Co, designed by EWA and AP, offers new uses including a multi-arts performance space, dance and activity studios, a new business incubator unit and 31 live/work loft apartments.

Design and Planning Process

 Listed Building Status: The early, developmental designs were submitted to the Listed Building and Conversation officer at the local authority in 2014. It was recognised that some of the most significant features of the Grade II listed building status were the main wide-spanning shell of the building and the roof structure. It was also established that the new design should seek to minimise interference with the fabric of the building.

Renovation: On the West elevation the existing openings were retained, providing new glazing and large sliding doors to celebrate their scale and purpose. The existing semi-circular windows to the South elevation are an important feature of the listed building. The developer sought to retain these and use them in-situ as part of a twin façade, sheltered by new double-glazed units.

Roof Structure: The wide spanning roof structure was the most important internal feature of the existing building and was therefore retained throughout. This allows it to be celebrated above the new performance space foyers and as an integral part of the character of each loft apartment. There are several double height spaces where the structure can be appreciated from entry level.

Renewal: The new uses in the building demand good daylight, views and access at ground level. Consequently creation of newly organised windows and doors were set out in relation to the existing facades, fitted within the openings of the established recessed brick panels and following the widths of the half round windows above.

The loft apartments have a tall space reaching up into the roof structure with new, tall vertical windows allowing natural light and views. The windows are tall and narrow to frame the views and address any disturbance from the nearby railway. They have an acoustic opening side vent panel, faced with a metal louvred panel to the outside, allowing attenuated ventilation.

The language of the tall vertical windows is continued at ground level to the North elevation for consistency, but also controlling the intrusion of new openings to the existing fabric.  Each business unit window has a sliding steel grille in front of it, both as a practical designed-in security feature but also as a continuation of the industrial metalwork aesthetic of the upper floor, which relates to the original industrial functions of the building.

Key Sustainability Points

 Building fabric upgrade: As the roof is the largest exposed area its thermal efficiency is significantly increased by the replacement of the roof covering with new insulated panels, that exceed current Building regulations. This in conjunction with insulation to the new floors and dividing walls provides highly efficient apartments.

Lighting: Natural daylight has been maximised to the office and residential spaces through use of existing openings and careful planning of new windows and rooflights.

Glazing: Existing single glazed rooflights and replacement windows have been replaced with highly efficient, thermally broken, new double-glazed units.


Wales Planning Awards 2016, commended

The Planning Awards 2017, best use of heritage in placemaking

RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2017

Finalist in Excellence for Planning in Built Heritage





Case Studies Residential / Housing

Silver How, Llanhennock

Design and Planning Process
Silver How is a generous five bedroom home located within the Conservation Area of Llanhennock, a small village near Caerleon. The new dwelling replaces a dilapidated 1960s house that had been built next to an Arts and Crafts stable. Purchased at auction by a family with young children, Silver How occupies a sensitive site, dominated by several large, legally protected, ancient Oak trees.

Hall + Bednarczyk architects were appointed following the failure to achieve planning consent for two previous schemes. To better respect the site, it was considered essential to retain the early 20th Century stable while preserving the oak trees which are an important visual asset to the wider village.

While the new addition is twenty percent larger than the previous dwelling, reflecting the client’s overall programme of requirements, it presents a modestly scaled gable end to the street, where it reads alongside the subordinate stable building.

he 440m2 project was built over a fifteen-month period for a budget of approximately £2,000 per square metre. The design employs a steel frame, allowing a flexible layout to benefit from large spans and slender structure. This frees up an architectural composition which marries the lightness and transparency of modern construction with the permanence and heft of locally quarried sandstone. The skill of local masons was crucial to achieving finely edged stone detailing which aims to bring a contemporary sensibility and overall unity to the design. Framed by the ancient oak trees and retaining the mossy roof of the carefully rebuilt stable, Silver How is immediately established in Llanhennock’s Conservation Area.

Key Sustainability Points
Generous ground floor glazing benefits from the oversailing first floor which provides natural shade for high angled intense summer sun, while enabling warming winter sun to penetrate the ground floor plan. First floor glazing is reduced to avoid overheating. Integrated shading louvres and a flexible system of opening windows, frequently at high level for daytime security, facilitates effective and versatile ventilation.

The new building incorporates a highly insulated, timber-framed envelope fully encasing the structural steel frame of the building. The hybrid design of the wall section enables a sandwich construction that is full filled with insulation and minimises thermal bridging. The incorporation of the service zone behind the plasterboard ensures the integrity of the Air and Vapour Control Layer (AVCL) layer and ensures good airtightness.

The Arts and Crafts stable has a newly constructed roof insulated to current building regulations. Retrofitted wall and floor insulation greatly improve its thermal performance. A ground source heat pump provides 4:1 performance gain for the energy requirements of all the hot water needs, which include underfloor heating throughout.

The elevated site is in an Environment Agency flood zone 1 and is not at risk of flooding from rivers or sea.

Client testimonial from Emma Powell:
We knew we had chosen the right architects for us from our initial meeting will Hall + Bednarczyk. Their vision filled us with confidence and we couldn’t wait to begin. They enabled us to appreciate what we liked and what we really didn’t want for our home. They were thorough in understanding our requirements and how we wanted to ‘live’ in the house as a family with two young children as well as future proofing it for us.  We looked forward to our regular project meetings where Hall + Bednarczyk were keen to listen to us, offering advice and guidance along with constructive challenge, rooted in their obvious expertise and experience.
They made commissioning our own home a painless process and we always felt we were in safe, experienced and professional hands. They selected the right construction company for us and our awkward build site and the whole process was a collaborative team effort.
Our home is now a real showstopper and local villagers are as thrilled with the finished article, as we are! It sits perfectly with in the surrounding area, fitting seamlessly with the natural environment. The quality of design and vision surpassed all our expectations and we now have a home that is a beautiful, comfortable place for us and our children to relax and enjoy.

Client quotes from Grand Designs interview:
‘We were impressed by the quality of their previous projects and they instantly understood what we wanted,’ says Emma, ‘A feeling of light and space was our biggest priority, and in hindsight we are so glad that our earlier schemes weren’t granted planning permission because Hall + Bednarczyk’s design is superb.’
‘As first-time self-builders we were unprepared for the planning challenges, but our architect and builder couldn’t have been more helpful and turned the project around,’ says Emma. ‘Linking the old and new buildings gives real character to the house, and all the little details and quirky touches bring it to life.’
(e.g. project/architect/engineer website)

Hall + Bednarczyk architects website:
Azimuth Engineering:

Reports Residential/housing

Glasdir, Ruthin (June 20)

Infrastructure Reports

A40 Llanddewi Velfrey to Penblewin, Pembrokeshire (June 20)

Press & Comment

Jen – Places for Life Blog

Jen Heal is an urban designer and planner with a particular interest in placemaking in new and existing town centres and neighbourhoods. She is co-chair of the Design Commission for Wales’ national design review service and leads on the Commission’s placemaking agenda. Entries for the second Places for Life conference have just opened so Jen is taking this opportunity to explore how we can create better mixed use communities with a sense of place.