img(height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2939831959404383&ev=PageView&noscript=1")

Clifford’s Tower, York

Words:
RIBA Regional Jury

Hugh Broughton Architects’ restoration conserves an ancient but declining structure and has won it 2024 RIBA Yorkshire Conservation Award and Client of the Year for English Heritage

Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner

2024 RIBA Yorkshire Award
2024 RIBA Yorkshire Conservation Award
2024 RIBA Yorkshire Client of the Year English Heritage

Clifford’s Tower, York
Hugh Broughton Architects with Martin Ashley Architects for English Heritage
Contract value: £3.7m
GIA: 715 m2 
Cost per m2: £5,174

Clifford’s Tower, which is a remnant of York’s Royal Castle, was constructed by William the Conqueror in 1068 but was largely destroyed by an explosion in 1684. The roofless shell is a local and national landmark but needed urgent repair work to prevent further damage. English Heritage’s brief to the architects was therefore to conserve, improve accessibility, and help visitors interpret the history of the building. The architects’ solution was to treat the structure as an archaeological artefact while using modern interventions to tell its story. Their sensitive restoration has transformed a dilapidated shell into an engaging and informative visitor experience. The project combines painstaking conservation of what remains of this ancient monument with a radical, unashamedly contemporary, freestanding structure that leads to a rooftop platform providing panoramic views across York.

  • Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
    Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
  • Clifford's Tower. Christopher Ison
    Clifford's Tower. Christopher Ison
  • Clifford's Tower. Christopher Ison
    Clifford's Tower. Christopher Ison
  • Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
    Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
1234

The Tower sits atop an earth mound. From the outside it is hard to tell that any work has been done other than providing information boards, resting places, and a new handrail to the stairs leading up to it. Once visitors enter the building, the new elements are obvious and clearly distinguishable from the original fabric. Inside the walls, metal walkways and stairs are hung from a large timber structure that leads up through the Tower. This route gives access to original features hidden inside the walls including the chapel and the royal toilet. As visitors slowly rise, they find out more about the Tower’s history through information boards and soundscapes from speakers hung from the timber structure. Audio benches offer places to sit and listen to stories about the building while looking through the slot openings at views across York, just as the Tower’s original inhabitants would have done.

Upon reaching the top, visitors emerge onto a timber deck with panoramic views across the city, where further information boards explain the views and clusters of seats allow them to stop and contemplate.

Through this complete sensory experience, visitors learn about the Tower and its importance in the history of England.

To achieve this subtle conservation, every stone and detail was carefully assessed and, where necessary, repaired by a team of specialist stonemasons. New elements have been designed to be freestanding so they do not add any weight to the fragile shell, and detailed so they can be dismantled and altered in the future without affecting the ancient monument. 

  • Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
    Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
  • Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
    Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
  • Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
    Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
  • Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
    Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
  • Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
    Clifford's Tower. Dirk Lindner
12345

This scheme is an exceptional piece of conservation work combining the historic structure with unapologetically modern interventions. The quality and the craftsmanship in both the old and new elements is clear and has transformed and preserved the building for future generations. This was a bold approach by an enlightened client and has clearly created an exciting visitor experience, shown by the rise in visitor numbers, and a huge asset to the city of York.

See the rest of the RIBA Yorkshire hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor Simpson (York)
Structural engineer Ramboll
Environmental/M&E engineer PrestonBARBER
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant RNJ 
Sustainability Ramboll
Interpretation designer Drinkall Dean

 

Credit: Hugh Broughton Architects with Martin Ashley Architects
Credit: Hugh Broughton Architects with Martin Ashley Architects
Credit: Hugh Broughton Architects with Martin Ashley Architects
Credit: Hugh Broughton Architects with Martin Ashley Architects
Credit: Hugh Broughton Architects with Martin Ashley Architects
Credit: Hugh Broughton Architects with Martin Ashley Architects

Latest articles

PiP webinar: Architecture for Schools and Education Buildings

  1. Products

PiP webinar: Architecture for Schools and Education Buildings