A DEVELOPMENT of four family homes in Dinas Powys has been shortlisted for this year’s National Eisteddfod of Wales’ Gold Medal for Architecture, supported by the Design Commission for Wales.

Old Farm Mews is situated on what was previously a narrow, steeply-sloping brownfield area, which presented a number of challenges to Crickhowell and Dinas Powys-based Hoole & Walmsley Architects.

Four contemporary family homes of varying sizes were created, and were specifically designed to be both environmentally sustainable and to work in harmony with the rise and fall of the land. When seen together, the finished houses work smoothly with their surroundings, appearing to form part of a village street.

The project has already been recognised at this year’s prestigious Welsh architecture awards, awarded by the Royal Society of Architects in Wales, winning Hoole & Walmsley Best Emerging Practice of the Year.

This year’s shortlist of six building projects was unveiled at a reception hosted by the Design Commission for Wales at Llanelly House in Llanelli on Thursday, July 3.

The Gold Medal aims to draw attention to the importance of architecture in the nation's culture and to honour architects achieving the highest design standards.

Supported by the Design Commission for Wales, and awarded in association with the Royal Society of Architects in Wales, the Medal recognises architectural excellence in buildings completed between January 1, 2011, and March 14, 2014, and recommended to the Eisteddfod as being of the greatest merit.

Carole-Anne Davies, chief executive of the Design Commission for Wales, said: “The Gold Medal for Architecture is the only design award directly supported by the Design Commission for Wales, which attaches great importance to architecture as a vital element in the nation's culture and to recognising architects achieving the highest design standards.

“Working in close partnership with The Royal Society of Architects in Wales, we seek to highlight architectural excellence in Wales and recognise exceptional designers and clients that create outstanding projects.

“The breadth of entries this year was especially interesting, revealing the richness and quality of the design work taking place in Wales from contemporary new-build dwellings to conversions and refurbishments. They illustrate the difference good design makes in a whole host of different situations, in both urban and rural environments, to bring about a high quality solution that responds to its unique context.”

The shortlist was drawn up by selectors Ann-Marie Smale of Powell Dobson Architects and Elfed Roberts of Grwp Gwalia. After further deliberation over the coming month, one of the buildings may be awarded the Gold Medal for Architecture which will be announced at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, held at Llanelli, on August 2, 2014.

Anne-Marie Smale said: “"This year’s entries demonstrated a range of building types and scale spread across a large area of Wales. In the main, the entries were new buildings or extensions to existing structures by a range of practices. The selectors were impressed by the diversity of the architecture and the strength of the client involvement in many of the projects, during the design process.

“All of the shortlisted projects demonstrate excellent design intent and exceptional understanding of the client brief. All three residential projects show tremendous attention to detail and truly create a 'home' that responds to its brief in every instance. The three non-residential projects differ greatly in scale and meaning in their urban context."

The Gold Medal for Architecture will be awarded together with the Plaque of Merit, which is given to smaller projects of a value of up to £750,000, achieving high design quality.

All six shortlisted projects for the Gold Medal will be included in the Architecture in Wales exhibition at the National Eisteddfod of Wales from August 1– 9. Supported through the partnership between the Design Commission for Wales and the Royal Society of Architects in Wales, the exhibition aims to enhance the profile of architecture in Wales through the presentation of drawings and models, conveying its richness and value in the culture of Wales.