Following an international competition, a team* led by Ian Ritchie Architects were appointed by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council in August 2019, to undertake a strategic appraisal of Cyfarthfa Park and its context within Merthyr Tydfil and the wider valleys region of South Wales.
The objective of this study was to imagine ways to reinvigorate the historic assets within the area and imagine outstanding contemporary and complementary ideas to elevate the park’s status as an attraction and reenergise the area and people’s pride in their history, culture and environment.
After extensive consultation and involvement with the public and key stakeholders in Merthyr Tydfil, the outcome is a multi-layered 20-year strategic Plan which substantially enlarges Cyfarthfa Park by reconnecting its historic assets, and draws on the unrivalled social, political and industrial history of Merthyr Tydfil and Wales, its position as a southern gateway to the Brecon Beacons, and its pivotal position in the wider Valleys Regional Park.
Merthyr Tydfil became a major centre of iron production during the early industrial revolution, and by its peak, Merthyr’s districts housed four of the world’s greatest ironworks. The Plan presents a synthesis of Cyfarthfa’s past, present and future, and provides a framework for community involvement in its implementation to reveal the global importance of Merthyr Tydfil’s industrial past and work in harmony with nature to transform the Cyfarthfa area.
The Plan’s 21st Century socio-economic approach to reimagining Merthyr Tydfil’s industrial heritage differentiates it from late 20th Century thinking. It will deliver a creative future based on environmental leadership, inventive educational development, real social value, community wealth generation at a local level and major economic investment with a national and international outlook.
It will become a model for outstanding urban, social, and economic renewal that all of Wales will be proud of.
“Ian Ritchie Architects and their whole team have woven together so many important strands to create an ambitious and holistic vision. The resulting Plan takes account not only of the need to attract visitors, but also of the potential for continued, long term, deep engagement with the community. The original brief put imaginative placemaking and the importance of future generations at its heart, and the team has responded with creativity and a true understanding of the richness, complexity and importance of this place.”
Carole-Anne Davies, Chief Executive, Design Commission for Wales
* Gustafson Porter + Bowman; Fourth Street, Arup, Equals, Julia Holberry Associates, TheWholeStory