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The Welsh men and women who built the world...

24 Oct, 2019

I’m Dyfed Price, a passionate Welshman and owner of Morph Interiors, currently living and working in London. Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve had a keen interest in design and architecture. I’ve always felt that Wales has had an incredibly important heritage in this industry but has not always received the credit it deserves. 

I've always thought that, as a small nation, it’s important for us to acknowledge, celebrate and educate each other on our achievements. It can be such a powerful thing. It can feed our sense of pride in our history. In turn, this can influence, nurture, and sculpt the way we think, work and interact with each other and the world around us - wherever we are and whatever we do.

If you think of countries as members of a big team, Wales, to me, has always been the quiet, hardworking one. Head down, busy, doing great things and rarely lifting our head above the parapet to take credit for our accomplishments. Whenever I travel, people have always heard of Scotland though kilts and whiskey and Ireland thought Guinness and St Patrick. But Wales remains relatively unknown. We need a platform to celebrate and promote the incredible accomplishments of our small, but creative and industrial country - which is something GlobalWelsh can help us to do.

Over the years, I’ve educated many a fellow dinner party guest about Frank Lloyd Wright’s Welsh credentials and how his Welsh Methodist roots influenced his life, work and outlook. This led me to embark on a little project to explore other Welsh architects whose impact on the world, I believe, had been overlooked, or their Welsh connection omitted from the history books.

In doing so I proved myself right, our history as a nation is proof that we have achieved the most incredible things - all around the world. I originally had a list of over fifty (!) but for the purposes of this article I’ve highlighted seven architects (in no particular order) who I believe have had the biggest impact over the last 250 years...

Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8th 1867 – April 9th 1959) was born in Wisconsin, America. The son of Anna Lloyd Jones, from Llandysul, Ceredigion and William Cary Wright. Wright is undoubtedly one of America’s most eminent Architects, interior designers, writers and teachers, who throughout his life designed over 1,000 structures, of which 532 were completed. 

It can’t be under-estimated the influence his mother had on his life through her Welsh upbringing,  especially the teachings of the Welsh Methodist church had on his work. One good example of this is he named his own house ‘Taliesin’. 

John Nash (18th January 1752- 13th 1835) Born in Lambeth, South London, the Son of John Nash, a Welsh Millwright. Trained under Sir Robert Taylor, Nash was one of the foremost British Architects of the Regency and Georgian eras. 

Financed by The Prince Regent and the successful property developer James Burton, Nash design some of the most important buildings still in the UK; Buckingham Palace, Royal Pavilion Brighton and Regent Street to name just a few. 

Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis, CBE, MC (28th May 1883 – 9th April 1978) was born in Gayton, Northamptonshire, but his family moved back to his father's native North Wales when he was four. The family have strong Welsh roots and Clough Williams-Ellis claimed direct descent from Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales. He is chiefly known as the creator of Portmeirion.

David Wyn Roberts (1911 in Cardiff, Wales – 8 November 1982) was an architect and educator, who designed more university buildings for Cambridge University than any other architect. With a modernist practice based in Cambridge.  He also designed many city housing projects, schools, and private residences. Roberts married architect Margaret MacDonald Baird, and they settled in Cambridge. Their only son, Nicholas Wyn Roberts, born in 1948, became an architect and professor of architecture at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. Roberts began teaching at the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge in 1946, and became a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1958. He influenced many students and employees who became scholars and architects, including Anthony Vidler, Lionel March, Nicholas Ray, Cedric Price, and John G. Ellis. 

Roberts is described as the first architect to specialise in modern educational buildings. He gave a stepped profile to his designs for student accommodation. His student accommodation buildings at Jesus College, Cambridge and St Hugh's College, Oxford, have already been given a heritage listing of Grade II.

Amanda Jane Levete, CBE (born 17 November 1955) is a Stirling Prize-winning architect, and principal of AL_A. Originally from Bridgend, South Wales, Levete trained at Alsop & Lyall and at the Richard Rogers Partnership. She co-founded the firm Powis & Levete in 1983 and was nominated for the RIBA's '40 under 40' exhibition in 1985. Levete joined Jan Kaplický at Future Systems as a partner in 1989, served as a trustee of the arts organization Artangel from 2000 to 2013, and is still a trustee of the Young Foundation. 

Future Systems completed works include the Selfridges department store in Birmingham and the Lord's Media Centre, which won the Royal Institute of British Architects' Stirling Prize in 1999. 

Levete formed AL_A (formerly known as Amanda Levete Architecture) in 2009, and in 2011 the practice won the international competition to design a new entrance, courtyard and gallery for London's Victoria and Albert Museum, MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) project in Lisbon for the EDP Foundation, the Central Embassy project in Bangkok.

In 2014 AL_A was chosen to design the second MPavilion for the Naomi Milgrom Foundation in Melbourne, the first to be designed by an international architect. The M-Pavilion, made from fibreglass overlapping petals, opened to the public in October 2015. 

Keith Griffiths RIBA FHKIA (born October 1954) born in Merthyr Tydfil and brought up in St Davids. Griffiths is the architect who founded and chairs Aedas, one of the largest global architecture and design practices. Since 1983 and for most of his career, he has resided in Hong Kong. 

From 1978 to 1980, Griffiths worked for Arup Associates before joining Foster and Partners in London as a member of the design. In 1985, Keith Griffiths and Anthony Hackett set up Hackett and Griffiths in Hong Kong. Hackett and Griffiths first commission was the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club sailing Centre at Middle Island. In 1992, Griffiths joined LPT Architects, but in 1999 Griffiths acquired LPT Architects, which grew the company to 250 staff by 2000 with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. 

To create a global design practice, Griffiths invited the UK practice of Abbey Holford Rowe to jointly own a new design company and in 2002 Griffiths rebranded the company as Aedas. Its operations grew from 550 employees in 2002 to 1,800 staff in 2008. In 2012, the former Abbey Holford Rowe left Aedas and in 2015, Aedas acquired UK practice RHWL and Arts Team, one of the leading designers of arts and cultural facilities in Europe. 

In late 2015, Griffiths was appointed Honorary Advisor for the inaugural Belt and Road Summit co-organised by the Hong Kong SAR Government and Hong Kong Trade Development Council. He proposed to build ultra high-density connected and vibrant hubs within our cities that accommodate our ever changing needs by providing public space at many levels and by fusing outdated concepts of high-rise towns into a vertical city and delivered a talk for TEDx in Shanghai on this topic. The full paper 'City Hub' was published by the CTBUH in November 2016. 

In 2016, Griffiths led Aedas to the world’s seventh largest architectural practices, with 1250 staff and 12 offices. 

Ruth Reed was brought up in Shrewsbury, and studied architecture at the University of Sheffield. Reed was the first woman and first academic to be president of the RIBA in its 175-year history (RIBA) 2009-2011. 

Reed set up her practice, Reed Architects, in mid-Wales in 1992, specialising in self-build projects. In later years, she moved into working on obtaining  planning for very difficult projects.

She also worked in teaching and, from 2006, was Director of the Part 3 Postgraduate Diploma in Architectural Practice course at the Birmingham School of Architecture.

Reed was President of the Royal Society of Architects in Wales (RSAW) from 2003 to 2005.

I hope, that by sharing this, outside of dinner parties and conversations with other passionate folk, future generations will carry the fire of the dragon more proudly and leave a little more of the Welsh legacy in all their creations! 

If anyone else feels as passionate as me about Welsh architecture, feel free to get in touch to go through

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