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Wallace Building

A Grade II Listed Building in Sketty, Swansea

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Latitude: 51.6083 / 51°36'29"N

Longitude: -3.9811 / 3°58'51"W

OS Eastings: 262910

OS Northings: 191798

OS Grid: SS629917

Mapcode National: GBR WL3.ZN

Mapcode Global: VH4K8.YT6Y

Entry Name: Wallace Building

Listing Date: 12 March 2004

Last Amended: 12 March 2004

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 82443

Location: Towards the SE of the campus, on the SE side of the main avenue, its long elevation and entrance facing a roadway aligned NE-SW

County: Swansea

Town: Swansea

Community: Sketty (Sgeti)

Community: Sketty

Locality: University of Wales

Built-Up Area: Swansea

Traditional County: Glamorgan

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The University College of Swansea was created in 1920 by the elevation of the town''s technical college to university status. By 1944 a greatly expanded university sector was envisaged, and in line with this, Swansea prepared its own development plan for a radical programme of expansion. Percy Thomas was commissioned to design new buildings for science and engineering, but these plans were thwarted by cost constraints. However, following the appointment of John Fulton as principal in 1947, Thomas was re-engaged to prepare a new development plan. This marked a radical shift from a non-residential college to a mainly residential campus university. Implementation of this scheme was over-taken by a further expansion plans on an enlarged site, necessitating revision and enlargement of the earlier development plan. This was undertaken by Dale Owen (of the Percy Thomas Partnership) and proposed a scheme based on academic spheres of influence, with humanities, sciences and applied sciences each in different zones, oriented around a central social hub. The scheme incorporated elements of Percy Thomas''s earlier proposals, and the Natural Sciences Building was built to his designs. It was begun in 1953, and built in two phases, the first (main range) completed in 1956, the outer wings in 1961. Since there was little university building anywhere in the years before 1955, this is an early post-war example.


Large-scale educational building, purpose designed for Natural Sciences teaching (geography, geology, botany, and zoology), in the classical-modernist style characteristic of the work of the Percy Thomas partnership at this time, and intentionally sympathetic to the character of the earlier library on the opposite side of the campus. Buff Tondu brick with ashlar dressings; flat roof. Mainly 2 storeys (though with basement at SW), planned as a long NE-SW range with shorter NW-SE wings. These wings form advanced outer blocks to the long main range, which is further articulated by the advancing entrance block at centre. This has strongly projecting concrete frame containing and emphasising a continuous grid of concrete, which comprises the glazing of ground and first floor, divided by a band of panels containing cast emblems symbolising the subjects taught within. Only the wide doorway with its flanking glazing interrupts this grid. A similar grid-like effect in concrete is achieved in the long ranges to either side of the entrance: again, continuous strips of window at ground and first floor are divided only by slender vertical and horizontal bands (the metal glazing bars recently renewed), and separated by panels with moulded emblems, as before. The schema for the outer wings is slightly different: Here, the fenestration still occupies framed panels of stone/concrete, but the windows are taller, and the vertical divisions between them are emphasised over the horizontal: the panels between storeys are blank. Simple framed square windows to basement storey at SW.


Grand entrance hall, with staircase to rear, top lit by circular windows and curved glazed ceiling. Teaching rooms, labs, etc., open off long spinal corridors.

Reasons for Listing

As and early purpose-built university teaching building in Wales, and as a good example of the work of Percy Thomas Partnership, employing the stylistic hallmarks of this major Welsh architectural firm''s 1950s work: a bold and highly disciplined essay in a modern-traditional style. The building forms part of a radical early plan for the development of the university as a residential campus based institution, and exemplifies a principle of that plan in which academic areas were assigned distinctive spatial zones.

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