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Wales is well known for its historic castles, abbeys and medieval farm houses. Some of the first buildings to break away from traditional designs follow the `art deco` style. A wonderful example is a house on the cliff top at Penarth near Cardiff. The white washed walls, the soft curves, the large bay windows, and the flat roof are characteristics of this popular style of architecture.
New architect designed houses in Wales are often built to blend in with the natural landscape. Indeed, this may be a requirement for obtaining planning permission. Care is taken to make buildings energy efficient, to reduce the amount of fuel needed for heating. At Abersoch in the Llŷn peninsula, some spectacular modern houses have been built into the cliff.
In recent times a number of large industrial buildings have been constructed in Wales. One of the most interesting of these was the Dunlop factory in Brynmawr which produced flooring products. The building had an unusual series of curved concrete roof sections. The engineer who designed these went on to design the roof elements of the Sydney opera house.
Two of the largest modern buildings in Wales are the nuclear power stations at Trawsfynydd in the mountains of Snowdonia, and Wylfa on the coast of Anglesey. These stations have reached the end of their working lives, but there are plans to instal new reactors at both sites.
The Senedd building at Cardiff Bay is a striking example of modern architecture. The large glass walls are intended to show the openness of government. In the centre of the building is the chamber where members of the Senedd meet. This is circular in shape, and surrounded by a public viewing gallery.
The universities in Wales have grown during the past century, with many new courses being introduced. Impressive new buildings have been constructed, such as the Arts Centre at Aberystwyth University. This building has a large theatre, used for both university and public events.
One of the best known modern buildings in Cardiff is the Principality Stadium. Built to host international rugby matches, it is also a venue for concerts by major stars such as Ed Sheeran. Cardiff has increased in importance as the capital city of Wales, and a major redevelopment of the city centre has included a new headquarters building for the BBC in Wales.
Expansion of public transport in South Wales and development of the Metro network is requiring new stations to be built. These will allow passengers to easily transfer between trains, trams and buses. A new park and ride station will be built between Cardiff and Newport, which will provide fast access to the cities of South Wales, as well as the main line to London.
Perhaps the most unusual railway station in Wales is at the summit of the Snowdon mountain railway. The mountain has had a number of summit buildings over the years, beginning with wooden huts. The most recent has a café with amazing panoramic views across the mountains. The architect has had the challenge of producing a building which will withstand very high winds, heavy rainfall and snow, whilst blending in with the natural landscape of the mountain.
A recent development in Caernarfon is a redevelopment of the old slate quay area, which had become derelict. The new development includes shops and cafes, and has a colourful and playful design.
The national botanic gardens in Carmarthenshire carry out important work in conserving rare plant species. At the centre of the gardens is a huge greenhouse built into the hillside. This is home to plants from the Mediterranean region and other parts of the world.
As the cities of South Wales have grown, there has been a need for more housing. In Cardiff, major developments have taken place around the old docks and alongside Cardiff Bay. Modern apartment blocks have views out across the water.