Penally Abbey wins Hotel of the Year

It has just been announced that Penally Abbey will be the Sawday’s Hotel of the Year 2017. This is very exciting news for the owners Melanie and Lucas Boisovan who took over the tired listed hotel near Tenby two years ago and have completely revamped it turning it into a unique boutique hotel.  We helped them with some ideas for the new function suite and reception, relocating the back-of-house rooms to improve the guest experience and provide them with additional facilities.  This involved taking out the first floor of what was previously the hotel swimming pool and digging into the hillside to create room for some toilets. The resulting function suite is an exciting double height space (see below), exposing the quirky roof structure and making it ideal for weddings and larger functions. The courtyard (see night shot) was also opened up to link directly into the new reception area. Getting planning for listed buildings is never easy, but this project went through fairly quickly, helped by a good relationship with the conservation officer locally, and the fact that we were restoring some of the original features. Melanie is an interior designer and has breathed her individual style on the interiors and the hotel is now busy throughout the year, helped by their excellent chef and building its reputation locally and nationally.

penally-abby-function-suite penally-abbey-courtyard_2


Things always quieten down for us during the summer holidays as clients and staff go on leave and the industry largely shuts down. This year was no different and at the end of August, our year out student Emma Reeves and first full time employee, left us to return to the Welsh School of Architecture after a holiday in Bali.

Shadi Al-Begain our other year-out student went to join his parents in Jordan for a six week spell but is due to return to us in September for another year’s work.  So to supplement the team during this month we had Dewi Preece a 2nd year architectural student from the WSA and Elliot Downs working for us, once he completed his year-out working in Bath before returning for his second degree up in Glasgow

Carolyn was voted in as the next Royal Society of Architects in Wales President, and will serve the initial year as ‘vice’ working with the current President Robert Firth and Mary Wren at the RSAW who are conveniently also located in the Creative Quarter.

Planning was received for a number of projects – Lake Road East and Harrismith Road (see below) and works on 56 Cathedral Road, St Tewdric’s and Ashton Keynes are now progressing well. However our job on the Isle of Skye had a setback as the second of the two houses partially blew down during erection in a gale, one of the hazards of working in the NW coast of Scotland!


The heat rises in our studio

As the temperatures blast ever higher and the summer finally arrives with a vengeance outside, our studio is busy with some exciting new projects:- Two new houses are on the drawing boards the first is a contemporary extension in Cyncoed….Ty Gwyn Render narrow

…and we have a new low energy sustainable house next to the Canal in CheshireN:Projects116 SandbachDrawings_Current Issue116-A(P)-204-re

On the Isle of Skye the Timber frame goes up in good weather and we got planning on  Park Road following some lengthy discussions with the planners in the Vale083 IoS Progess Progress Photo 2

Llandaff Park in for Planning

The application to approve Reserved Planning matters has now been submitted for Tailor Wimpey on the former BBC site in Llandaff.  Following months of detailed design which included consultations with the Llandaff Society, Design Commission for Wales and a public open day, we have shaped the scheme to take on board comments and concerns from all parties to create a unique development on this important site.

The resulting project retains the original strong design ideas and many of the existing mature trees, creating a series of new spaces to be enjoyed by the residents and public – The Square; The Crescent and The Courtyard.  One of the key challenges was how to create variety within the 8 acre site and the 364 residential units, whilst creating a sense of place.  We have used a simple pallet of quality materials and standard treatment of window reveals has be used at appropriate scale on all units from the small scale terraced houses, the larger standard Tailor Wimpey house plans which have been completely re-skinned, the three and four storey town houses through to the apartment blocks which range from three storey to six storeys.N:Projects�87 BBC LlandaffDrawings_Current IssueA(P) Series

The resulting scheme ‘hangs together’ in spite of its large scale.  The key spaces have a town scale which is in keeping with the conservation area of Llandaff.Main Image- 087 Cam8

June Update

We have had another busy month with projects at all stages, both on the drawing board and site keeping us busy.

The first of the Cathedral Road houses was completed with a happy client now moved in.  This has led to more work on that road with 2 new house refurbishments and extensions.  We recently received planning on number 56 (see below) which has now started on site.Dining Room 1.2




Construction has started on both the houses083 Isle of Skye Progress Photo 1 in the Isle of Skye and the steel frame wind-posts are now up on the first house with the remainder of the timber frame, going up in July for both houses, what this space for more updates. I went up to visit at the end of June, in good weather for once to meet the contractor and hand over the site works to a local surveyor. Work has also now started on the listed St Tewdric House wedding Venue, with the initial work (after the creation of a bat loft to provide a protected habitat for bats) being the restoration of the existing stone work and reroofing of the main two buildings which are being retained.  Once the remaining planning conditions have been signed off, the glulam timber frame (which is being made locally) can go up and we will finally see the function suite take shape.IMG_5094

We also had a small Client event to show them our new offices and introduce them to our team, if you didnt make it to that, please feel free to call in at any time for a coffee

The Dingle gets Listed Building Concent

The listed building consent on The Dingle, Cardiff was received on 18th April meaning that construction can now proceed on this contemporary extension. It’s exciting to work with a client who wants such a modern design and it proves that planning permission for a contemporary extension can be achieved next to a listed building.  The extension contains a living/ dining/ kitchen area which opens onto the garden with the first floor master bedroom,  bath and dressing room, opening onto a balcony. It is designed to tuck under the existing eaves height with a glass link back to the main Arts and Crafts style house.  The extension has a folded standing seam roof which wraps around the glass walls with the ensuite terracotta pod bathroom projecting at an angle on the corner

The next stage is to carefully integrate the structural elements with the cladding to ensure clean minimal lines are maintained. The image below shows the structural model overlaid in red with the BIM model. By building the extension virtually on the computer before we start, we can check for any clashes and adjust things before the steelwork starts Screen Print of the Dingle


St Tewdrics Receives Planning

With Planning finally granted on 15th April, St Tewdric House moves to the next stage. The first job to be done with any listed building is to ensure a thorough record is made of the existing coach house and stables. On clearing out these buildings we discovered a stone manhole in the coach house to a large double chambered room under the whole of this building.  This is quite an unusual feature for a coach house, particularly as the main house has a large cellar as well and we believe it was for storing water. However it also creates a problem for us as it needs to be strengthened to ensure the floor can withstand the loading in its new use as the function suite bar.

We also had to think about the bats and birds which have inhabited this building whilst it was empty, so another job which overlapped with the planning process was the creation of a new bat loft.  This is a dark, protected space occupying half of the stable block loft, and to be kept permanently for the bats to provide them with a continuing roost.  Bats are a protected species so this work had to be undertaken with an ecologist, and openings have been created into this room and within the roof and eaves.

The walls and roof of these two buildings were in quite a bad state of repair, so the delay caused by the planning process was also put to good use with maintenance work during March and April replacing damaged timbers, roof slates, replacing the lead ridge and re-pointing work.  As can be seen from these photos this is now largely complete and subject to the last remaining planning conditions being approved, construction work can start properly on the new works.IMG_5094

We are settling in nicely in our new offices in the Creative Quarter and have been busy with some exciting new work.  The BBC site in Llandaff is keeping us very busy with the detailed planning application now in full flow.  In addition this month we have submitted several exciting new projects in for planning:-

Firstly The Dingle, Cardiff was submitted at the beginning of the month, this is a very contemporary extension to a listed arts and crafts house.  Permission had been given previously to a more traditional pitched roof extension, but the client had approached us last year to design something more imaginative.  The two storey extension, has an angled brick box which sits in the glazed façade and is then wrapped in a standing seam zinc roof which floats above the extension and shields from the neighbours.  The extension sits under the line of the existing eaves and has been designed with sympathetic materials, with the new brickwork matching the existing slim-line red bricks used on the existing house.089_The_Dingle_Extension - Garden View - 150717








The next project to be submitted was a complete remodeling with extensions to an existing house in Harrismith Road, Roath, Cardiff. The current 1970’s house needed completely revamping with condensation issues and general lack of space for the large family who bought the property with the intention of expanding it.  There are single story green roofed extensions to the front, side and rear to form an enclosed courtyard.  The building has been re-clad in a light buff brick and an extra storey added, clad in ZincView from Street looking North







We have been commissioned for yet another house along Cathedral road, this time on the other side of the road, for a semi-detached house.  Again, updating the interior, whilst respecting the original and providing a modern light extensions to the rear to house an open plan kitchen, dining and living space which opens onto the large garden.Main_streetview front









Finally we submitted for planning on a new House in Penarth, on a fabulous site which overlooks the Severn.  The client wanted this property to be more traditional, so, inspired by the Arts and Crafts houses of the 30’s, we designed a low two storey house with a big slate roof and strong horizontal lines.  This house needed to provide full disabled access throughout and has a richness of detailing which fits in with the surrounding conservation area.   It was particularly important, since the property faces East/ West, to maximise the light and ensure the south facing windows on the side, do not overlook the neighbours.N:Projects111 Park RoadDrawings_Current IssuePlanning SetP

A busy month, with more projects in the pipeline!

New Offices

On Friday Downs Merrifield Architects vacated our Home office in Ty Oriel, after only 20 months since starting the new practice, moving into the centre of Cardiff. The new studio is located within the Creative Quarter above Morgan Arcade and shared with other like-minded creative businesses
With the team growing steadily to meet our project demands we needed a new home and although we are waiting for some new furniture to arrive, are up and running after the move last Friday.
Our new address and telephone numbers can be found on our website. All other information remains unchanged, i.e. email and web address.

computers and screens
Nic lying down on the job



FinishedPlease pop in for a catch up and coffee if you are passing by.


For the love of Christmas Beer & Cheese

In an ‘alternative’ Christmas celebration, the Downs Merrifield team had their Christmas bash last week at the new Crafty Devil Brewing Co in Canton. The night included a masterclass about cheese and beer matching, with us all enjoying the five great cheeses beers, including a rather unusual coffee flavoured one. The cheese was all British and provided by Penylan Pantry, our local deli and caterers of choice. The evening was a relaxed, informative, tasty alternative to the normal turkey and crackers in an anonymous hotel in town. We were particularly entertained by Nicole’s sweater with the words Happy Xmas in stitched in sequins on her bust, which when brushed up or down changed to Happy New Year, a sentiment we send out to you all!

Christmas 1

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