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2018 Project of the Year: RICS Awards, Wales

We're delighted to announce our Wales, Project of the Year — The Active Classroom, Swansea — along with the winners for the RICS Awards 2018, Wales.

Over 16 of Wales’ most impressive and community beneficial property schemes battled it out for top honours at the RICS Awards 2018, Wales. BBC Wales TV presenter, Lucy Owen, hosted this year’s sell-out ceremony held at the Radisson Blu in Cardiff.

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Project of the Year – The Active Classroom, Swansea 

The highly acclaimed Project of the Year title is presented to the scheme which demonstrates overall outstanding best practice and an exemplary commitment to adding value to its local area.

The title went to the Swansea’s Active Classroom, which also scooped the Design through Innovation accolade on the night. Delivered by Faithful + Gould, Swansea University (SPECIFIC) and Kier Construction, SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Center developed a new concept for buildings of the future; buildings that generate, store and release their own energy. The Active Classroom demonstrates the latest renewable energy technologies being developed at SPECIFIC and by collaborative companies. It will be used to further research; evaluate different technologies and materials; and to help engage with innovative companies within the construction industry, who are interested in improving our future building stock.

Judges were impressed by how the project took the latest advances in construction, solar power, battery and associated technologies and combines them into a comfortable, easily useable and flexible building.

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The Active Classroom, Swansea
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The Active Classroom, Swansea

Category winners and highly commended entries

Building Conservation

Yr Ysgwrn, Gwynedd

Yr Ysgwrn is a cultural symbol for the people of Wales. It is a simple 19th century farmstead, yet represents the life and achievements of one of Wales’ most famous poets, Ellis Humphrey Evans who is better known by his bardic name Hedd Wyn.

The farmhouse at the centre of the site was home to Hedd Wyn until his death in First World War, when he was famously posthumously awarded the prestigious Bard’s Chair at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

Judges were impressed by how tastefully and carefully the team restored the historic farmhouse and artefacts on display including the black chair originally carved in wood by a Belgian WW1 refugee Eugeen Vanfleteren. They felt the scheme takes Yr Ysgwrn to a new level of accessibility and positions it correctly as a site of the highest national importance with international significance.



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Zip Worlds Adventure Terminal, Bethesda

With the historic back drop of Penrhyn, the building blends perfectly into its surroundings, echoing the Welsh slate industry with a mix of material from Penrhyn and Cwt-y-Bugail quarries. These surroundings have brought a whole new dimension to what Zip World can provide, feedback is hugely positive. Zip Worlds Adventure Terminal has been very successful and has created more jobs and opportunity for the area

Judges commended how TC Consult Ltd, Lawray Architects, WRW Construction worked together to enormously enhances the visitor experience, widens accessibility and is set to continue to boost visitor numbers to the locality and to the region of North Wales.

Community Benefit

Old Oak Housing Co-operative, Carmarthen

The Old Oak Housing Co-operative is a partnership between Tai Gwalia (Pobl Group), Wales Co-operative Centre, Carmarthenshire Council and Morganstone. The project is the first of its kind in Carmarthenshire. At the time of inception it was one of only three being piloted in Wales. The tenant managed housing co-operative features 27 homes. A year on from the development’s completion Old Oak Co-operative has continued to develop into a close-knit community, where members have fully embraced the ownership of their homes.

Judges liked the fact this project was community focussed from its inception. A partnership between the housing co-operative members, housing association, local authority and contractor, the residents were involved in every step of the design & construction process leading up to completion of what has become the housing association’s first tenant managed scheme.


RNLI Llandudno Lifeboat Station, Llandudno

The bold design for the RNLI’s new Llandudno lifeboat station sits proudly on an iconic site on the exposed storm beach to the east of town’s Victorian promenade and between the limestone headlands of the Great and Little Orme which shelter the bay. The building is clad with Welsh limestone, Siberian larch under a natural copper inverted roof and represents the culmination of 20-years of efforts by the RNLI to modernise their search and rescue capability at Llandudno. A successful partnership between McNaughts, Studio Four Architects Ltd and Wynne Construction for Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Judges commended the distinctive in design, a striking solitary building offering a reassuring sight on Llandudno’s seashore. Designed to a robust RNLI specification to accommodate the latest technology, the station forms a vital link providing continuous coverage across the North Wales coast.


The Jennings, Porthcawl

Delivered by WYGBridgend County Borough Council, EWA Architects and ABA Holdings Ltd, the Grade II listed Jennings warehouse building, which now forms a hub of activity in the seaside town of Porthcawl (South Wales), until early 2017 was abandoned and had fallen into disrepair. Now the building forms the centre piece of the wider Porthcawl harbour and seafront area and acts as a catalyst for future regeneration of the town.

Sitting between a working marina and an RNLI lifeboat station, judges were impressed with the transformation of the Grade II Listed former warehouse to flats, live/work units and three food & drink outlets. It forms part of a more comprehensive redevelopment of this popular seaside town.


Leonard Charles House, Swansea

Leonard Charles House is the transformation of a former department store in Swansea into a residential and commercial development. Built in 1972 it was a major shopping destination, its subsequent decline led finally to closure in 2013 contributing to the rundown, neglected appearance of the area. Morganstone and Coastal Housing in partnership worked to regenerate this landmark building and contribute to the wider regeneration of the area as well as providing 32 affordable residential properties, commercial property and underground car-park.

The redevelopment and reuse of a derelict, ugly 1970s built department store into a striking landmark building that provides homes for families with young children as well as the elderly was praised by the judges. With the potential for this project to be the catalyst for further regeneration in the Sandfields area of the city.

Tourism & Leisure

St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff

Few places define Welsh identity as profoundly as this visionary and iconic redevelopment for Amgueddfa Cymru (AC). St Fagans National Museum of History has been transformed into a world-class, participatory, inclusive and unique museum and visitor attraction driven by the needs of its users. As a gateway to Welsh history and culture, St Fagans will become one of the great museums of history, defining Wales as a contemporary multi-cultural nation, connected to the wider world.

Judges felt that this internationally famous museum redevelopment of its Grade II Listed Building revealed much of the original structure, creating a spectacular double-height atrium. They were impressed by Focus Consultants, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Purcell and Kier Construction’s approach to the new building, Gweithdy, which sits amongst historical buildings in Grade I Listed woodlands, providing an eco-friendly opportunity for creativity and was very popular with the judges.


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