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A national architect? The Percy Thomas practice and Welsh national identity

Davey, Elaine 2013. A national architect? The Percy Thomas practice and Welsh national identity. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The Percy Thomas practice was responsible for designing a large number of structures in Wales throughout the twentieth century, for a range of functions that are part of the essential infrastructure of modern urban nations. The aim of this thesis is to show that the practice has made one of the most significant contributions to the built environment of modern, twentieth century Wales and that some of this work contributed to nation building, through the scale and scope of its projects, especially given the number of these that contributed to the fashioning of key institutions of the state or civic life. These buildings have contributed to the developing awareness of Wales emerging as a separate nation, through their particular function or even form. The practices role within that nation building and modernising agenda has yet to be evaluated, prior to this research project. The contextual framework for the research has been an understanding of nationalism. National identity is socially constructed and nationality has been, for the last two centuries, part of the political agenda of nation- states. Welsh nationalism and nation building are part of a wider European movement, as will be demonstrated, through the exploration of the development of nationalism in Wales and its manifestations. How the built environment relates to socio-political and cultural ideas of nation building and identity formation and then whether and how the built environment can contribute to the process of nation building and identity formation, given that it is often the product of complex power infused social relations, will be demonstrated, once it is established that buildings are able to communicate meanings. The role of the built environment and iconic buildings, in particular, are an important part of the process of drawing attention to often contested conceptions of national identity, this role is often overlooked and its importance under-estimated, this is particularly the case in Wales. The work of the practice is explored through a historical narrative account that sits within the critical realist research tradition for examining and explaining socially constructed phenomena,such as nation building activities. It will be shown that the practice was on some occasions, self consciously undertaking work of this sort and displayed a degree of freedom regarding design.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Uncontrolled Keywords: Percy Thomas; Nation building; Identity formation; Meaning
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:05

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