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Celebrating Welsh architecture

22 September 2009

Welsh School of Architecture book cover

A Rhondda miner who juggled punishing night shifts with part-time architectural studies is just one of a number of remarkable stories featured in a new book chronicling the history of The Welsh School of Architecture, to be unveiled at the National Assembly this week.

The Welsh School of Architecture, 1920-2008: a History, charts the students, the successes and the characters who helped transform a room with a single lecturer and eight students into what is today Wales’, and the UK’s, leading centre for architectural teaching and research.

From its origins before the First World War, the book traces the early educational aims, experience and growing academic successes of The Welsh School of Architecture.

From the nineteen twenties and thirties progress is charted through the difficult forties and on into the expansionary times of university status and research opportunities which followed. The story is brought fully up to the present with its international joint projects, wide range of specialist expertise and staff from many countries.

Former Senior Lecturer at The Welsh School of Architecture and author of the new book, Christopher Powell, said: "The book charts the progression from a small institution meeting local professional needs through a fifty-fold expansion into a major centre widely recognised as one of the leaders of its type in the UK."

Amongst the key features of the book are the students who have contributed to the success of the School.

One the earliest pupils featured is David Williams, a miner who entered the School in the first year it opened and worked night shifts at the Standard Colliery, Ynyshir in the Rhondda while doubling up as a part-time student.

He successfully withstood this most punishing routine and in due course became a full-time student winning a School draughtsmanship and design prizes, as well as an award at the 1923 National Eisteddfod in North Wales.

Completing his course in 1925 he took a job as assistant to the Glamorgan County Architect and then three years eventually becoming Chief Assistant Architect at Essex County Council.

Professor Phil Jones, current Head of The Welsh School of Architecture, said: "As the seventh Head of School this book provides a snapshot and key insight to the key events and people who help shape the Welsh School Architecture into the UK’s leading centre of architectural study."

The book will be officially launched by the National Assembly’s Presiding officer, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, who has written an introduction to the book, at a ceremony at the National Assembly on Wednesday 23rd September, 2009 at 6pm.

Copies of the book are available at a cost of £12 and £10 for students.

To attend the launch, please contact Anne Evans at The Welsh School Architecture on 029 20 874018 or by e-mail:

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