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Winchester Cathedral South Transept Exhibition Spaces, Winchester

Design team looked to the cathedral fabric for inspiration – its ambience and materials

Winchester Cathedral.
Winchester Cathedral. Credit: Peter Cook

RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA South Award winner 2021
Winner of the RIBA North West Conservation Award and RIBA South Client of the Year Award


Nick Cox Architects with Metaphor for Winchester Cathedral    
Contract value: undisclosed 
GIA: 580m2

It would be easy to miss this wonderful little intervention, which creates new exhibition spaces and includes the first lift to be inserted into a medieval cathedral in the UK.
Arriving at the South Transept, it is not immediately obvious that any intervention work has been carried out as the lift shaft appears recessive – a similar tone to the cathedral’s stone walls. A metal mesh in front of the lift shaft glass gives a lustrous finish appropriate to this special place. Continuing this theme, metal fabric curtains have been used throughout to control sunlight. 

At ground level, a new archway has been cut into the masonry and metal gates commissioned to close off and secure the Winchester Bible. These Scarpa-esque gates exemplify the attention to detail shown throughout. 

Emerging from the lift at first floor level, the view down to the main body of the church creates a ‘wow’ moment that is incredibly moving. This alone, even without the wonderful exhibition designed by Metaphor and the new accommodation of the Winchester Bible, makes the project a worthwhile venture

  • Winchester Cathedral.
    Winchester Cathedral. Credit: Peter Cook
  • Winchester Cathedral.
    Winchester Cathedral. Credit: Peter Cook
  • Winchester Cathedral.
    Winchester Cathedral. Credit: Peter Cook
  • Winchester Cathedral.
    Winchester Cathedral. Credit: Peter Cook
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The overall outcome enables better engagement with the cathedral, improved understanding of its heritage and improved accessibility for all. The detailing and quality of the materials used are impressive – a very restrained palette of metal, wood, and glass. The craftsmanship is stunning and worthy of this important setting, and it is evident that many of the elements will improve with age as they gain the patina of use. By complimenting and enabling appreciation of what has gone before, the architecture adds a worthy new layer to a sacred and iconic building.


See the rest of the South winners here
And all the RIBA Regional Awards here
See other RIBA National Awards 2021 winners, Culture, here

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