The Countryside Protection for Rural Wales has awarded Plas Glyn y Weddw a second award in 10 years. See the award citation by CPRW Chair Frances Lynch Llewellyn below.
Image above - Matt Sanderson and Gwyn Jones receive the award from Frances Lynch Llewellyn. Image by Gareth Jenkins.
Award Citation from CPRW Chair Frances Lynch Llewellyn.
Citation : New Café at Plas Glyn y Weddw Art Gallery, Llanbedrog
In 2013 the Caernarfonshire Branch of CPRW gave Plas Glyn y Weddw a Rural Wales Award for their creation of an exciting outdoor theatre and their enhancement of the woodland which surrounded it. Since then, this new outdoor facility, a huge addition to access and recreation, and the Art Gallery have flourished to such an extent that a larger café and a better kitchen were needed.
It is wonderful that, in these straitened times, the response was not just to build a larger conservatory, but to build something the like of which we have never seen -- except on the seashore! Through a series of miraculous coincidences Gwyn Jones and his Trustees made contact with the sculptor Matthew Sanderson and later with architect Seb Walker of Mark Wray Architects of Bath and their engineer partners Fold Engineering.
Matthew Sanderson has often taken his inspiration from nature and in the case of this commission, set within a Marine Conservation Area, that inspiration came from the sea, from Sea Urchins to be precise. Sea Urchin shells are wonderfully designed: they look fragile but are actually very strong because of their curvature and their raised ribs. They inspired the shape of the building and another local sea creature, the Acorn Barnacle, is reflected in its textured, light reflecting surfaces. Having the vision is one thing – making it stand up is another! This is where Mark Wray Architects, Fold Engineering and OBR Construction came in – a challenge which they have splendidly fulfilled!
This new structure would be a splendid addition to the Gallery if it just stood there. But in fact it does fulfil all the practical needs and eases the problems that it was asked to address. It is no larger than the twentieth century conservatory it replaces, but its space is more flexible and behind it is a new well-equipped kitchen. The rearrangements have also offered opportunities for improvement to other essential amenities. Plas Glyn y Weddw is an important Listed Building which might have caused the Trustees to proceed with rather dull caution, but this wonderful, meaningful and intriguing sea creature sitting beside the Gothic mansion has successfully won over the guardians of tradition.
We are sure this Urchin Café will delight all who see it, and all who use it, and this is why we are giving it our Rural Wales Award. This award is also a tribute to the vision and courage of the Plas Trustees in adopting this ground-breaking and successful design.
Frances Lynch Llewellyn
October 19th 2023.