Design team looked to the cathedral fabric for inspiration – its ambience and materials
Nick Cox Architects with Metaphor for Winchester Cathedral
Contract value: undisclosed
The cathedral’s south transept previously housed vestries, offices, WCs and an outdated exhibition at Triforium level, with unsympathetic interventions at ground. Above, the beautiful Morley Library and its 12th century Winchester Bible were only accessible via the staircases. There has been conservation work, alterations to historic fabric and the insertion of new elements; most notably a passenger lift rising through the 11th century groin vault of the tribune. But there was also a new mezzanine floor and staircase, new balustrades and gates and the new exhibition.
In conceiving the scheme, the design team looked to the cathedral fabric for inspiration; not just the ambience of the architecture but its material palette of glass, metalwork and wood. Screens are a recurring theme too and so the lift is clad with glass with a bronze mesh interlayer creating an illusion of lightness and views in and out. Metal balustrades and gates act as another screen, and beyond that chains hung in the arcades add yet another layer; not only shielding the exhibition from the body of the cathedral but reducing internal light levels to protect its delicate artefacts.