Architect Who Changed the Face of Cardiff; the Glamorgan Archives Offices in Leckwith, Cardiff, Are a Treasure Trove of Photos, Documents and Records Related to South Wales History. in the Fourth of a New Weekly Series Featuring This Resource, We Look at an Architect Who Really Made His Mark on South Wales
EVER wondered who was behind some of Wales' most iconic and recognisable buildings? No, not the William Burges-designed Cardiff Castle, but the buildings we live and work in, the ones we see around us or, in the case of Penarth's infamous Billy Banks estate, the ones we used to see.
In the case of the Billy Banks, as well as the BBC headquarters in Llandaff, the modernist gallery at St Fagans and much of the 1960s development at University College Swansea, the answer is renowned architect Ivan Dale Owen.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Dale Owen was perhaps the foremost architect in Wales.
Part of the Percy Thomas Partnership from 1958 until 1989, he was a leading proponent of the modernist style, having trained for a time under the legendary Walter Gropius, the founder of Germany's esteemed Bauhaus movement.
Born in Merthyr Tydfil in 1924, he died in Penarth in 1997, by which time he'd seen the ground-breaking "Billy Banks" development on Penarth Heights reduced from its original status as a futuristic community to crumbling and neglected tenement.
Thankfully, not all of Owen's designs suffered the same fate and many of his creations have become part of the landscape, dated perhaps in the case of the reception gallery at St Fagans, but much loved all the same.
In addition to his work on the campus in Swansea, his talents were in demand by academic institutions elsewhere and his style can be found in Aberystwyth and at Cardiff University.
style can be found in Aberystwyth and at Cardiff University.
After retiring from the partnership in 1989, he set up an architectural consultancy with his wife Maureen Kelly in Penarth. He was active in the field of building preservation and served on the RIBA Council, was President of the Society of Architects in Wales 1977-1979 and chairman of the Civic Trust for Wales and the regional group of the Victorian Society. …