The Minister was addressing the Royal Society of Architects in Wales conference, which this year focussed on the theme of ‘Sustaining Our Heritage, where he told delegates that protecting traditional buildings whilst also ensuring they are fit for modern life is the key to making the most of Wales’ traditional buildings.
Traditional buildings are categorised as those built before 1919, which make up 34% of the total building stock in Wales - the highest proportion in the UK. This includes both listed and unlisted buildings.
During the conference, the Minister also presented an award for the Reinventing the Terrace competition which has sought proposals exploring a balance between Welsh architectural heritage and the drive for low energy demand homes. RCT Homes will work with the winning architects to develop the scheme and, subject to viability, will construct the resulting design as a live pilot study on one of their existing property plots.
Announcing the winner, the Minister said:
"Properly understanding and caring for terraced houses is important for their own sustainability and also for the health and well being of families that occupy them. A competition that investigates and celebrates these issues, with a view to finding innovative solutions is welcomed and I congratulate the Royal Society of Architects in Wales for developing this initiative".
The Minister added:
“In Wales, our heritage is all around us and offers important economic benefits, contributing to tourism, facilitating economic activity and many, many homes. It is important for many reasons; it is rich and varied, it’s part of our history and our culture and it provides us with a unique identity and sense of community, as well as offering attractive and interesting places for people to live, work and play.
“With such a high proportion of traditional buildings, a sufficient supply of craft expertise and understanding from architects and others surveying and analysing traditional buildings is essential. Without it, the future of our built heritage in Wales will not be in safe hands. Failing to deal properly with this valuable resource could have huge implications for both our heritage and our economy so traditional building craft skills has to be an important part of our agenda.“
“This is why we are preparing a Heritage Bill which will give us a real opportunity to develop a suite of modern-day measures for our historic environment. We have started to take a fundamental look at current systems and practices in protecting and managing all parts of the historic environment and we are looking to come up with solutions that are specifically geared to the needs and circumstances of Wales. The expertise of architects will be a vital element of this process and your thoughts and ideas will be important in setting the direction for the future protection of our built environment.”