Disabled access to the upper levels of Southwell Minster has been provided via the installation of a new lift featuring a bespoke glass lift enclosure manufactured by Essential Projects.
Located in the heart of the Nottinghamshire countryside, the Grade I listed Southwell Minster dates back to a period of time as early as 956AD.
Steeped in tremendous history the iconic cathedral has hosted notable historic figures such as King Richard the Lionheart and Charles I, who have both stayed in the State Chamber Room which still exists today.
Due to its stunning architectural features the Minster has been a popular destination for pilgrims and travellers alike for over a thousand years and is still a popular tourist attraction today.
In order to enhance the visitor experience an ambitious plan has been implemented to open up the Palace to travelling tourists. The aim is to provide opportunities for learning groups to take part in activities at the Minster and also to stimulate further tourism which will benefit the local economy.
In 2013, the minster was granted £1.3m by the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry our repairs to the framework that supports the Great Hall and vaulted State Chamber. Part of the restoration works carried out also involved the installation of a new lift which will enable disabled access to the first-floor State Chamber room.
Renowned for their expertise working on heritage buildings, Essential Projects was contracted by MGH Architects to provide their technical expertise and provide the architectural metalwork and glasswork needed for the glass lift enclosure.
Having visited the Minster to conduct a thorough site survey, Essential Projects offered a design solution that would comply with the very strict building conservation guidelines set out by English Heritage as well as comply with current health and safety regulations and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
Essential Projects manufactured full height double glass doors, which were then installed to the ground floor and first floor entry points featuring an electro/mechanical locking system.
A 1.1m high steel and glass balustrade was fitted around the three sides of the glass lift enclosure and mounted securely to its base. The balustrade also incorporated a stainless steel handrail within which the lift control buttons were housed.
Once the lift doors were closed, a gap had to be present between the lift platform and the door to enable the lift to rise. To prevent lift passengers from injury or entrapment as they journeyed in the lift, further protections were required. At ground floor a double action sliding door was installed, whilst at first floor level a pivot door was supplied within a glazed screen that was located in between the existing stone columns.
Upon further assessment, it was decided that there would also be a requirement for the glass lift enclosure to feature a glazed screen. Essential Projects were able to amend the design specification and manufacture a frosted glass screen to fit around the existing lift structure. The alteration satisfied DDA requirements and also provided a clean aesthetically pleasing finish to the lift.
Commenting on behalf of MGH Architects, Mark Goodwill-Hodgson said “The feedback we have received from visitors regarding their experience of using the new lift at the Minster has been very positive. I have previously used Essential Projects and once again they have not let me down. The solution they provided not only complied with traditional English Heritage regulations, but also added a clean modern touch that will help the Minster thrive for the next thousand years. They were proactive in assisting with the resolution of a series of complicated inter-related problems caused by the need to balance lift regulations with the constraints of a conserving the architectural appearance of a building with national historic significance. The final product is elegant and sophisticated and helped me to overcome a number of difficulties this project entailed.”
Eliot Saxton, Managing Director at Essential Projects added “Southwell Minster is not only a stunning piece of architecture but a centrepiece of our nations great history. It was important that we provided a solution that used modern technology that efficiently answered a problem but still kept the Minsters heritage intact.”
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