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MacEwen 2024 shortlist: Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales

‘There was agency from everybody, the whole team has got something out of it’

Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers.
Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers. Credit: Johannes Marburg

Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales
KHBT Architects & Designers for Maindee Unlimited 
Contract cost: £139,668
GIA: 55m2 (400m2 public space)

It is not every day that a WC makes it into an architectural award, but KHBT Architects’ conversion of the public conveniences in Maindee – Newport’s most densely populated area – has transformed ‘an abused and unsafe site’ into an environmentally and socially beneficial community space. ‘The community is diverse and social isolation within ethnic groupings is common. Class A drugs sales remains a local issue,’ explains the client John Hallam of Maindee Unlimited – a charity supporting the local community and businesses via sustainable built environment improvements. ‘The Triangle’s democratic spaces are proving something of an antidote to decades of neglect [and residents] are starting to see the space as something shared, and perhaps even important.’

KHBT’s thorough site analysis revealed a diverse and fragmented space demarcated by high walls and clearly marked out greenery and planted areas. The architect sought to maximise the potential of these zones. New additions are given a distinctive appearance of typical yellow shuttering plywood panels, which now define the Triangle’s identity. And the community of Maindee has been actively engaged throughout, providing valuable input and design direction, and maintaining the new community spaces with care.

  • Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers.
    Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers. Credit: Johannes Marburg
  • Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers.
    Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers. Credit: Maindee Unlimited
  • Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers.
    Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers. Credit: Jo Haycock
  • Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers.
    Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers. Credit: Johannes Marburg
  • Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers.
    Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales by KHBT Architects & Designers. Credit: KHBT Architects & Designers
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The derelict toilet building, now the multi-functional community space, is punching way above its weight, with first Minister mark Drakeford opening the site to the public. ‘It was a tiny budget for a tiny site,’ commented MacEWen judge Stacy Barry. ‘I really loved that the residents are seeing it as something shared.’

‘I understand the challenge of doing something in that location,’ added judge Je Ahn. ‘It is brave, there are challenges and the budget is a shoestring.’

Sustainability has been a key feature of the project including a rainwater harvesting and SuDS system. Rainwater from the building’s roof is used for on-site toilets and for watering plants. Elevated planters, used for community growing and planting events, mitigate the risk of flooding by absorbing excess water. ‘This project delivers bang for its buck,’ said judge Alex Scott Whitby. ‘There was agency from everybody, the whole team has got something out of it.’

‘It is amazing what they have done,’ concluded judge Kathy MacEwen.


See more on MacEwen shortlisted projects and architecture for the common good 

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