Portmerion, Proportion and Perspective

Francis Ellis, Sebastian Messer

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The holiday village of Portmerion was created by Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis (1883 1978) over a period of fifty-one years, starting in 1926. It was grade II listed in 1971. However, Portmerion has become a part of western popular culture rather than of mainstream architectural history. Its use as the setting for the cult 1967 television series “The Prisoner” ensures continued worldwide interest and a constant stream of visitors. Williams Ellis’ design methods were empirical, initial designs being adjusted by eye on site in close collaboration with trusted builders. This paper analyses the development of Portmerion as a gesamtkunstwerk; considering the experience of movement through the village as a dynamic composition of shifting vistas, focussing the visitor on a series of constructed views. Through this analysis, Portmerion is revealed as both a manifestation of the architecture of pleasure and an exercise in the pleasure of architecture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-40
JournalBuilt and Natural Environment Research Papers, Special Issue: Architecture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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