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University of Wales, Cardiff, including Forecourt Walls

A Grade II* Listed Building in Castle, Cardiff

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4875 / 51°29'15"N

Longitude: -3.1794 / 3°10'45"W

OS Eastings: 318208

OS Northings: 177168

OS Grid: ST182771

Mapcode National: GBR KJJ.1Q

Mapcode Global: VH6F6.VW11

Entry Name: University of Wales, Cardiff, including Forecourt Walls

Listing Date: 25 January 1966

Last Amended: 30 April 1999

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 13757

Building Class: Education

Location: Opposite E side of Alexandra Gardens, on a large site backing on to Park Place.

County: Cardiff

Community: Castle

Traditional County: Glamorgan

History

The College of South Wales had been founded in 1883, becoming a college of University of Wales in the 1890s. Cardiff Council donated an extensive site in Cathays Park, and a competition was won in 1903 by W D Caroe; it is one of his few secular buildings. The building was completed only in the 1960s, with additions by Alban Caroe. W D Caroe's great hall was never built. The library was paid for by Drapers' Company of London, based upon library of Trinity College, Dublin (but was altered in 1977 by horizontal subdivision).

Exterior

Series of long blocks arranged round quadrangle. Portland stone (channelled ground floor); style evokes late C17/early C18 university colleges of Wren; generally 2 storeys, but with attics at key points. Facing Museum Avenue, elongated W front of 47 windows arranged in 11 sections. Central block of 5 windows with superimposed 3-bay Ionic temple front with reliefs to pediment; low-relief figural frieze (extending a further bay to each side) with oculi. Sash windows to first floor (paired within temple front). On ground floor open arcade with enriched piers and keystones; central entrance with segmental pediment on columns with blocking. Behind this an attic storey crowned by a further steep pediment (to library) with trophy; Baroque cupola with dragon finial.
To either side of entrance, taller square 3-storey pavilions, mullion and transom windows; attic storeys have aedicules with figural sculpture, balustraded parapets; 3 windows to first floor (differing treatments to each side); 4 arched windows to ground floor. Long 2-storey flanking wings with balustraded parapet, mullion and transom windows to first floor, round-headed sash windows to ground floor; projecting end blocks of 4 windows. To front of Museum Avenue elevation, low stone wall with obelisk gatepiers. To North and South again extend long matching return wings divided into groups of varying heights and with stylistic detail varying and simplifying with time of construction (some panels of grey-green slate to window aprons). East wing entrance to court flanked by 3-storey blocks with open pediments, and closed by screen of iron railings and gates, iron gates and stone piers in form of curved centre wing. Stone gates with ball finials. Wide centre gate; narrower flanking gates. In quadrangle, eastern elevation of west wing mainly of 3 storeys; 3 storey pavilions, open arcade to ground floor; library projects forward in centre, with Venetian window, segmental pediment reflecting barrel vault of library, niche with staue of St David. Pedimented centre blocks to N and S wings, inner corners with convex projections with applied classical detailing.

Interior

Entrance loggia leads to low, deep hall; piers with Ionic detailing; long corridors to N and S. Statue of John Viriamu Jones (first Principal) 1906 by W Goscombe John. To N, staircase round open well, newels with Ionic capitals support spandrels of saucer domes (some glazed), walls faced with Penarth alabaster; landing with clerestorey. Council Chamber with shallow tunnel vault pierced by side windows; full-height panelling, carved overmantle. Baroque doorways lead to Draper's Library (Floor inserted 1977); six bays, barrel vaulted with coffering partly glazed, thermal windows, arcade of round arches on piers with applied Ionic pilasters, Venetian window to E end.

Reasons for Listing

Graded II* as important public building by prominent architect on key site in civic centre. Group value with other listed buildings in Cathays Park.

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