North Wales has a history of sequestering hidden gems away from the world. This can be seen in the finely constructed castles of King Edward I, the Italianesque village of Portmeirion, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct or the beauty of Snowdonia National Park.
However North Wales has a very unusual piece of history that is associated with one of its most famous industries. This is hiding precious art within the slate quarries dotted across the entire north of the country. Over 1800 paintings from masters like Michelangelo as well as the National Gallery’s library of books were concealed within Manod Quarry during WWII.
This relationship between the Welsh hills and undoubtedly some of the world’s finest collections of art was cemented during this time but has not existed since the 1950s.
Creating an environment within North Wales which can be a focal point for artwork that will emulate the heritage of the area which is remembered by one lone soul. Not only will the area be home to priceless artworks, but it will also have the potential to form a ground-breaking site for the storage and conservation of artwork with innovative techniques used in the storage and conservation. This centre will also have a facility that will not only further the knowledge of how art should be stored but also through the use of laboratories, carbon dating and robotics, the centre will play an important part in paving the way for future generations to appreciate art.
Within this facility, the architecture will be subordinate to the art, with walls and columns detached and relocated to suit the differing dimensions of art within the spaces. This superiority of art will be found within the theatrical elements also. The art will be the centre piece for any performance that occurs, be it in the restoration processes of the conservation facility, the storing of the artwork deep underground or by being unboxed and put on display in the Theatr Ardudwy.
The facility will also have a home, not only in Harlech, which will be utilised as a training facility but also within in Manod, with a 'simulation' occurring between the buildings that will allow for the most important and priceless artifacts to be stored in areas that have been left empty since WWII.