The unique conditions of 2020 and the pandemic interfered with the usual site visits. After some debate, it was finally decided to consider awards for 2020 and 2021 together, in case the unique difficulties of 2020 had eclipsed something.
Durham Cathedral’s new glazed lobbies at the north and south doors were opened in February 2020, ironically just in time for the closures and disruptions of the Covid pandemic. However, visitors over the last year will have been able to admire how well the new large transparent lobbies work in this very sensitive location. They simultaneously enhance and conserve the building, their structures mirroring each other across the nave of the Cathedral. Skilled working is apparent in the detailing of the glass fixings and in the fit of the glass to the historic structure, which is effectively showcased. Upwards lighting now enhances the beautiful archway stonework and its carving – highlights that would have been mostly unnoticed in the past. Technical fitments such as the floor heating ducts and automatic door controls are incorporated sensitively. The modernised entrances meet contemporary access requirements and reduce heat loss.
Both the transparent lobbies create a strong drama on entry, giving opened views east and west through the Cathedral, as well as across the nave to each other. There is now even a glimpse of the cloisters from the north entrance. The original wooden doors are kept, now held permanently open inside the new structures. Fully displayed within the new entrances, they can now be better examined for their various workings and decorations (details on the Cathedral website).
Work on the lobbies was carried out by Vest Construction of Bishop Auckland, following the design of Cathedral Architect Chris Cotton and his team at Purcell. Our thanks and congratulations to all involved – a superb award-winner. Who would have thought that Durham Cathedral itself could be significantly improved!
See Annual Review 2020-2021 for details of this building and other candidates for the award.