Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
5,7,9,11 & 15 Pen y Bryn Road  


Unitary Authority
Colwyn Bay  
Colwyn Bay  
Street Side
At the eastern end of Pen y Bryn road, on high ground overlooking the town of Colwyn Bay.  


Broad Class

A group of 5 terraced houses designed by Stewart Powell Bowen, architect, and built as a series of separate developments between 1966 and 1980. In 1951 S Powell Bowen took over an architectural practice which had been established by his brother WJ Bowen in Colwyn Bay. The practice worked throughout N Wales, mainly designing domestic and ecclesiastical buildings. In 1970 Powell Bowen established the Bowen Dann Davies Partnership (BDD) with Frank Dann and Bill Davies, with offices in Colwyn Bay, Bangor, and later Rhyl. BDD were active in designing buildings for local authorities, as well as churches and private housing. The practice established a strong reputation for its housing work, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, and many of its developments were award winners. Notable schemes included the Cefndy Hostel for the learning disabled in Rhyl (1973-5, RIBA Award 1976 and Gold Medal for Architecture at the National Eisteddfod of Wales 1977), Hafan Elan housing for the elderly in Llanrug (1980, various awards incl. a RIBA Commendation 1982) and the Brooklands development in Old Colwyn (1975-82). After Powell Bowen’s death in 1982 BDD went on to design the Plas Menai National Watersports Centre (1983) regarded as one of the more influential examples of a modern Welsh architecture. After Bill Davies left the partnership Jonathan Knox joined and it became Bowen Dann Knox. The houses at Pen y Bryn road were initially designed by Powell Bowen before the BDD partnership was formed. In them, he developed a modern vernacular style using low key and harmonious materials, forms and setting, which was pursued further in the later work of the partnership. Each of the houses at Pen y Bryn Road was developed separately and given individual touches of layout and finish, but in accordance with a design guide provided by Powell Bowen. On this basis an overall scheme was developed, allowing for some flexibility in individual designs, though Powell Bowen retained the right to approve each one . No.9, the central house, was the first to be built, and was Powell Bowen’s own house. The houses either side (7 and 11) were constructed next followed by the end houses (5 and 15). No15 was built by the builder Jim Gorst. Powell Bowen wanted the development to be different from conventional housing schemes of the time, especially those in the ‘middle-price range’. He wanted the houses to appeal on grounds of quality both in the house itself and in the landscape setting. The site was carefully selected and handled - the design utilised the views from the high ground but also set the buildings into the land to minimise their visual impact, using vertical stepping to accommodate to the slope of the site. The design of the development was intended to differ from the accepted rationale in which individual houses in a single development were differentiated by style. This conventional approach to development (seen especially in the more affluent detached development in Colwyn Bay itself) led in his view to too much ‘visual chaos’. Instead the development was intended to be harmonious and co-ordinated, so that although the individual houses would differ in plan, and layout, they would share the same high quality simple materials, all specified by Powell Bowen. Bill Davies produced perspective drawings showing the overall intended appearance of the development. It was also important to Powell Bowen that each house and its space was private, so the principal rooms of each looked out onto a private south facing garden, screened from the houses on either side by the houses themselves (which are stepped in plan)or by garden walls. Importantly he decided to construct them as a terrace avoiding the dead space otherwise found in between detached houses, incorporating garages into the façade and maximising the building frontage along Pen y Bryn Road. He was also keen to create a naturalistic setting, using simple landscape design with no formal division (fencing) or planting , on the street frontage. In this development, Powell Bowen gave expression to contemporary views on housing design, especially those of Nordic modernism, combined with an understanding of traditional Welsh building practices to create a distinctive vernacular style. Key to this was picturesque composition and the expressive use of materials, and the inter-relationship of internal and external space. He also sought to respond to the requirements of modern living by providing pragmatic and practical spaces and paid particular attention to provision of heating and insulation.  

Terrace of 5 houses, single and two storey. Staggered E-W plan following the line of Pen y Bryn, but offset to it. Stepped in elevation following the rising ground westwards. All single storeyed except for No 7, which is 2 storeyed. Constructed of dark brown facing brick (with internal thermal insulating block) and white painted horizontal bands of timber boarding at eaves and above openings. The timber boarding is irregular in its arrangement and combined with the staggered planning this creates a rhythm which breaks up the solid pattern of the brickwork. Flat roofs formed from structural 3 inch thick cedar boarding, forming visible ceilings internally, covered with insulating materials and aluminium sheet. Roofs to No 7 and 9 replaced with zinc sheeting retaining similar appearance. Timber pivot windows, all original, with large pane glazing, draught proofed and single glazed except to No15 which are double glazed. Projecting slate window cills. Staggered arrangement from east to west, in which each house projects forward. This, together with the L-plans of each (except No7) provides privacy to the front area and enclosed rear gardens. No5 at E end single storey with small rear extension. Projecting window bay offset to left, projecting garage at right. Roofline steps up to right to No7 which is 2 storeyed (the only house that is) but with the living areas on the upper floor, the lower floor built into the rising ground. Wide window to left over garage, band of double and 2 single windows across the centre. Rear elevation with band of 4 windows and balcony to rear at E end over garage, window and door set back. No9 in centre rises slightly above No 7 and projects further forward, wide window to left, central window and door, garage to right. No 11 is stepped forward again as is No15, with window bay to left and projecting garage/entrance to right. Rear of Nos 9, 11 and 15 generally with extensive full height glazing opening onto the gardens, large windows and rear garage doors. No 15 retains original greenhouse and outbuilding.  

Interiors of 9 and 15 inspected. These have open plan living areas with interconnecting kitchen, dining and living areas. Exposed timber boarded ceilings with heavy joists, brickwork piers and plain plastered walls. Combination of solid concrete and suspended timber flooring. Plain joinery to doors and built-in cupboards. Some surviving elements of the original heating systems and control panels, No9 has warm air system from a gas fired heater, No15 with gas fired central heating with mixture of conventional radiators and fan circulating radiators. Numbers 5, 7 and 11 not inspected internally.  

Reason for designation
Included for its special architectural interest as a highly distinctive small –scale housing development designed by a leading figure in post war architecture in Wales. Notwithstanding some alteration and loss of detail the original composition - a clever and imaginative approach to planning and layout - is intact, and the individual houses display a clear and honest use of materials and arrangement of space. This development represents an outstanding example of progressive post war housing design.  

Cadw : Full Report for Listed Buildings [ Records 1 of 1 ]