IHBC’s ‘Heritage across the doorstep’: On Purcell-led ‘Open Treasure’ project at Durham Cathedral winning 3 RIBA awards

building interiorThe Northern Echo has explored how the Open Treasure project at Durham Cathedral – managed by architectural design practice and IHBC HESPR scheme member Purcell – has won three awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in recognition of its architectural excellence.

image Purcell website

The Northern Echo writes:

The Open Treasure project, managed by architectural design practice Purcell, has increased public access to the hidden treasures of the cathedral, both architectural spaces as well as the collections. It has created a range of awe-inspiring spaces to display the cathedral collections, using the claustral buildings. Taking more than three years to complete, Open Treasure has made the hidden spaces of the Unesco world heritage site open to visitors for the first time.

The Jury panel said: ‘The works to Durham Cathedral are a subtle and elegant addition to the medieval, Grade I-listed structure. Working with the cathedral staff for over seven years the architects have created an inspiring visitor experience that celebrates the architecture of the building and showcases its historic collections by remodelling previously hidden spaces. The sequence of spaces have been carefully adapted to create a range of environmental conditions that respond to the differing needs of the collection from medieval stonework and book collections through to Anglo-Saxon artefacts.’

‘Bronze stainless steel and glass lift shafts have been carefully inserted into the existing structure to provide accessible routes throughout while new timber doors separate and secure the zones. This restricted palette of materials has been used against existing stone structures to provide a timeless, high quality finish based on traditional craftmanship. This attention to detail reflects the stature and significance of the cathedral. The design seamlessly integrates historic features and modern interventions that include creative repair and conservation and adaptive re-use of the historic buildings.’

‘The judges were impressed by the quality of the workmanship and detailing, including inclusion of lead framed secondary glazing to enhance the performance of the structure without affecting its appearance. The joinery throughout and the subtle integration of new lighting and ventilation systems without visually impacting the historic structure reinforces an overall sense of accomplishment and skill.’

The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, says, ‘It is wonderful that Open Treasure at Durham Cathedral is now recognised as a RIBA National Award winner. We are hugely grateful to Purcell UK, our consultant architects, in particular Christopher Cotton, and all the contractors and cathedral staff, who worked on the creation of Open Treasure. It is an amazing addition to the visitor experience at the Cathedral as we tell its story through imaginative displays and the Cathedral’s priceless collections on a journey through the most intact medieval monastic buildings in the UK. Purcell created a scheme that melds the old and new overcoming challenges such as how to make the spaces accessible and much-needed conservation and restoration work, whilst remaining true to the original character. Open Treasure was made possible by National Lottery players through a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, and other funders, including the Friends of Durham Cathedral. We thank everyone who made Open Treasure possible.’…

See Purcell’s entry in HESPR

For more on Purcell see purcelluk.com

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