Architect’s ‘iconic’ art deco house under threat of demolition
An art deco house in Rhos on Sea, designed by a renowned Welsh architect, is under threat of being demolished and replaced with flats and a carpark.
Concerns have been raised about plans submitted by Developers Commercial Development Management who want to knock down the house on the corner of Marine Drive and College Avenue and replace it with five apartments and car parking.
The house which was built in 1939 by Sidney Colwyn Foulkes, holds a commanding position on the sea front with spectacular views.
It has been variously reconfigured over the years as a house and apartments, but the façade is in the iconic art deco style.
Residents are concerned about the plans, with one Facebook post noting the house’s history and the fact that it is listed on Coflein, the National Monuments Record for Wales, which means it is a “non-designated heritage asset” which may have a “degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions”.
Another resident commented: “Again a building that is so valuable to the history of the area. If I remember the Foulkes family have a reputation in the area that this building could celebrate the influence of this builder. Please think again”.
Plans have been submitted to Conwy County Council and are said to be at an early stage in the consultation process, but it has been noted that the house may be of architectural interest.
The case officer dealing with the application was urged to check whether the building comes under council policies, which protect local structures of importance in the area.
Born and raised in Colwyn Bay, Foulkes won a scholarship to study architecture at the University of Liverpool after drawing up plans for what became The Cosy Cinema on a former horse stable site in Colwyn Bay.
He went on to win a commission to design the Rhos Playhouse, the Arcadia Theatre and several war memorials including the Obelisk at Llandudno.
He was involved in the design of more theatres and playhouses across North Wales as well as hospitals and housing estates.
Foulkes and his wife Daisy Charney had five children. Their son Ralph also became an architect, and his wife, Elizabeth Colwyn Foulkes received an MBE for her architectural work.
Awarded the Freedom of the Borough in 1966 by Conwy Council, Foulkes was a member of the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales and of the Historic Buildings council for Wales.
Clough Williams-Ellis the architect and designer of Portmeirion, commented on Foulkes in his autobiography: “…his sense of background and meticulous care for apt materials and appropriate detailing set a standard that has not been without its effect in raising those of others less sensitive than himself”.
When Foulkes died in 1971 Williams-Ellis wrote: “Whenever I could, I would take distinguished visiting architects and critics (Frank Lloyd Wright and Lewis Mumford amongst them) to see both him and examples of his work – sure of their warm approval and admiration of both, in support of my own.”