Southwell Minster

Client
Southwell Minster
Location
Southwell
Contractor
MGH Architects
Final Contract Value
£25,000
Completion Date
April 2014

Project Brief

Southwell Minster is located in the heart of the Nottinghamshire countryside and dates back to as early as 956AD.

This iconic Cathedral is steeped in history with notable figures such as King Richard the Lionheart and Charles I having 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.

The Minster is the Cathedral of Nottingham and as such receives many visitors each year. To enhance the visitor experience an ambitious plan has been implemented to open up the Palace to a much wider public. 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 awarded a £1.3m grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out repairs to the Grade I listed Great Hall building and the vaulted State Chamber. As part of the restoration works to be carried out, the project included the installation of a new lift in order to provide disabled access to the first-floor State Chamber room.

Renowned for their expertise working on heritage buildings, Essential Projects was contacted to provide expert advice and manufacturing and design services.

The essential solution

Having been appointed by MGH Architects, Essential Projects visited the Minster to review the area within which the lift access had been designated. Having concluded our assessment, we 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).

Our solution included the manufacture and installation of full height double glass doors to the ground floor and first floor entry points featuring an electro/mechanical locking system.

We also provided a 1.1m high stainless steel and glass balustrade which was fitted around three sides of the lift platform and mounted securely to its base. The balustrade also incorporated a 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.

Compliance with health and safety regulations governing lift installations and the need to conserve the aesthetics of heritage building was at times a difficult balancing act.  At one point during the design phase, and following a series of site meetings with the lift engineer and architect, it became apparent that there would also be a requirement for the lift platform to be enclosed in a glazed screen. Essential Projects modified the design specification and manufactured a frosted glass screen to fit around the existing lift structure. This alteration satisfied the regulations whilst also ensured that a clean seamless finish was maintained.

Testimonial

“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.”

MGH Architects, Owner, Mark Goodwill-Hodgson

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