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17th century Welsh longhouse design wins Eisteddfod gold medal for architecture

05 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Pen-y-Common – winner of the Architecture Gold Medal

An extension to a seventeenth century Welsh longhouse has won its creators the coveted gold medal for architecture at the National Eisteddfod.

The medal was awarded to Nidus Architects, of Presteigne, Powys and Rural Offices, which has its base in Yr Egin, Carmarthen for the Pen-y-Common project which nestles on a secluded hillside above Hay-on-Wye

The medal is awarded in conjunction with the Royal Society of Architects in Wales and the Design Commission for Wales.

A spokesperson for Nidus Architects said: “The owners of Pen-y-Common wanted a modern, light filled extension, however it also needed to sit comfortably with, and compliments the existing house.

“A dialogue between old and new was developed using a material palette of natural, raw finishes inspired by traditional Welsh practices. Floors are buffed concrete, a modern take on traditional flagstones whilst the untreated larch cladding was grown, cut, dried and machined within ten miles of the site.

“Thoughtful, sustainable detailing has been employed throughout. For example the cladding has a random width pattern to reduce unnecessary waste, with offcuts being used elsewhere, such as to make the front door.”

Building of the year

The award at the National Eisteddfod is the latest award for the project which has been recognised with the RSAW Welsh Architecture Building of the Year 2023 and an RIBA National Award 2023 given to buildings in recognition of their significant contribution to Architecture.

Pen y Common was undertaken by both Nidus Architects and Rural Office. Rural Office undertook the initial stages of the work and Nidus Architects undertook the latter stages. The contractors were Jenkinson Builders and Firth Construction of Brecon and the Structural Engineer was from RV Williams Associates based in Llandrindod Wells.

The selectors praised the project for offering “a sophisticated balance of prospect and retreat” and for “being neither too big nor too small, neither too formal nor too informal”.

It is the only architectural award being made at this years National Eisteddfod with the Plaque of Merit and a scholarship for a young architect being witheld.

Later today Gold Medals for Fine Art and Craft and Design will be announced in a ceremony at Y Lle Celf, the Eisteddfod’s art exhibition.

Y Lle Celf

During the week-long Eisteddfod Y Lle Celf, supported by the Arts Council of Wales, will be the largest temporary art exhibition in Europe with dozens of specially curated art items on display.

Elin Huws, chair of the Art committee in Llyn and Eifionydd, said: “The Eisteddfod gives artists a place to display their work and for one week every year Y Lle Celf is the most popular art gallery in Wales.

“This exhibition has become a very professional show and winning an award is extremely important to an artist’s reputation.

“What is exciting, innovative and fresh for one may not be considered so by others. That is what usually happens at Y Lle Celf and we will see what the opinion is about the art in the exhibition this year.”

She explained that in order to exhibit in the exhibition, artists and designers must either have been born in Wales, have Welsh parents, or have lived or worked in Wales for at least three years before the presentation date. The final selection is made by a panel of experts.

Elin added several exciting projects have been taking place in the Eisteddfod’s catchment area for months and these will have a prominent place in the exhibition.

“The Cofnod project was set-up with the intention of keeping the names of places such as fields, chapels and beaches alive.

“During the Eisteddfod itself we will have a specific theme every day in Y LLe Celf with workshops and activities,” she said.

The 2023 Llyn and Eifionydd National Eisteddfod at Boduan runs from August 5-12. More details online at

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