‘CHIEF CREATOR OF MODERN WALES’: THE NEGLECTED LEGACY OF PERCY THOMAS

Elaine Davey, Huw Thomas

Abstract


The architecture of Percy Thomas, and the practice he founded (Percy Thomas Partnership), are neglected aspects of the development of twentieth century Wales. Twice president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and awarded its Gold Medal, the architect’s work remains largely undocumented and unanalysed. This paper begins to address that deficiency. It argues that by virtue of its breadth and nature the practice’s work both responded to and helped shape perceptions of Wales as a modernising nation-state. In so doing, it identified itself with, and benefited from, a political project which assumed hegemonic status in Wales in the inter-war period and beyond. Yet the practice was not simply responding to clients’ requirements, as is illustrated by the process of designing the administrative block for the National Folk Museum at St Fagan’s in the 1960s. This reveals the contribution the architects made to reinterpreting modernity, amidst competing conceptions of Welsh identity and futures for the nation.


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