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Welsh buildings win at top UK awards

Over 90 of the UK’s most impressive and community beneficial property schemes battled it out for top honours at the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Awards Grand Final 2018, where Yr Ysgwrn in Gwynedd was named the best Building Conservation project in the UK.

The prestigious annual contest – hosted by ITV news anchor, Nina Hossain and held at The Brewery in London on the afternoon of Friday 2 November – celebrates the UK’s most inspirational initiatives in the land, property and construction sectors that are having a significant positive impact on the communities they serve.

Category winners – of all sizes and budgets – from each of the 12 regional RICS Award ceremonies held earlier this year, competed in the Grand Final to win the national accolade in their respective category.

Yr Ysgwrn won the Building Conservation category of the Grand Final against still competition from the likes of Canterbury Cathedral, Depare Abbey in Northampton, and the Tropical Ravine in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens.

Yr Ysgwrn is a cultural symbol for the people in Wales. It is a simple 19th century farmstead, but it 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 conservation project, which tastefully and carefully restored the historic farmhouse and artefacts on display including a black chair originally carved in wood  by A Belgian WW1 refugee called Eugeen Vanfleteren, was delivered by surveyors Cavendish Bloor, architect Purcell UK and Grosvenor Construction.

The work also radically improved the traditional agricultural outbuildings, some of which were derelict, in order to create a comfortable and spacious visitor centre.

RICS judges said of the scheme:

“Great conservation projects enhance the understanding of the building, its story and significance. Hedd Wyn’s story could have been told via photographs and with the contents removed to a Museum setting. The conservation of this humble dwelling in such a remote area with its view across Snowdonia provides a much more powerful understanding of its significance in cultural & literary contexts as well as the historical juxtaposition with the horrors of the Great War that might otherwise have been lost. The conservation of the “spirit of place” as a whole, so often not possible or overlooked, is considered a wonderful achievement.”

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In a great night for Wales’ built environment, St Fagans National History Museum near Cardiff was Highly Commended in the Tourism & Leisure category, from a list of 12 contenders around the UK including Titanic Hotel Belfast, World of Wedgewood in Stoke-on-Trent and category winner Command of the Oceans, Chatham.

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