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The Fratry Building Renovation at Carlisle Cathedral / Feilden Fowles

The Fratry Building Renovation at Carlisle Cathedral / Feilden Fowles

© Peter Cook© Peter Cook© Peter Cook© Peter Cook+ 13

  • Architects: Feilden Fowles
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area:  835
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year:  2020
  • Photographs Photographs:  Peter Cook, David Grandorge
  • Manufacturers Brands with products used in this architecture project
    Manufacturers: Cumbrian stone, Hempstock, Martec Engineering, Premier Lifts, Set in Stone Flooring, Victoria John of London
  • Design Team:Ingrid Petit, Fergus Feilden
  • Surveyor Of The Fabric:Buttress Architects
  • Structural Engineer:Structure Workshop
  • Services Engineer:BCA
  • Concept Landscape Architect:Petherick, Urquhart and Hunt
  • Project Manager/Qs:FWP
  • Archaeology:Cumbria Archaeology
  • Main Contractor:Cubby Construction
  • Joinery:Cubby Joinery
  • Stonecutting:Cumbrian Stone
  • Stone Installation:Askins + Little
  • M&E Installations:JJ Group
  • Conservation Structural Engineer:Stand Engineering
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© Peter Cook
© Peter Cook

Text description provided by the architects. Feilden Fowles has completed the transformation of the Grade I-listed medieval Fratry at Carlisle Cathedral - the most significant physical intervention on the cathedral site for more than 150 years. A new entrance to the refurbished Fratry hall and undercroft has been created, reached through a newly built red sandstone entrance pavilion and link structure connecting old and new.

© Peter Cook
© Peter Cook

The project, completed following a long gestation (the cathedral has been working on it for 15 years, and the architects for the last six), gives the Fratry renewed purpose and welcomes the public for the first time, enriching the cathedral’s benefits to the wider community. It is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Carlisle, Cumbria, northwest of England. Built in 1122 in a Norman architectural style, and extended in the 13th and 14th centuries, the cathedral precinct’s solid masonry is of local red St Bees sandstone, which has darkened over time. Feilden Fowles’ new entrance pavilion is made from Dumfries red sandstone, Locharbriggs, cut and installed by local stonemasons.

Site plan annotated
Site plan annotated

The Fratry was built in the 1500s as the priory refectory, and houses one of the finest cathedral library collections of books in the country. The pavilion is located to the northwest of the Fratry, on the site of the former west range of the original Augustinian priory cloister, destroyed during the Reformation; the lot had become dead, windswept land, serving only as a thoroughfare. Positioned 90 degrees from the Fratry, the pavilion and its green fringe delineate a new space and aim to create the atmosphere of the cloister that inspired the design. The pavilion reintroduces a reflective and sheltered public space at the heart of the cathedral precinct and city.

© Peter Cook
© Peter Cook

The project balances high-tech innovation (CNC-cut stone, 3D and 2D modelling, complex geometries) with low-tech solutions (specialist hand carving) to enhance the historic precinct and create a pleasant space to dwell. The solidity of the pavilion’s CNC-cut stonework and contrasting transparency of the glazed bays formed by the arches provide visitors clear views to the cathedral and the surrounding listed buildings. A new welcome area and public café have been created, providing dedicated space for the clergy to greet visitors and school groups, and allowing the cathedral to engage with more people in new ways and transform its teaching and learning activities.

© Peter Cook
© Peter Cook

Education work will benefit from the newly refurbished undercroft beneath the Fratry hall, which has become an open, uncluttered space able to accommodate 80. The elevations of the pavilion are inspired by Gothic arches found across the cathedral precinct, and in particular, the western window of the Fratry. Designed following an extensive public consultation in 2016, this dropped arch profile fans out to a simple rectilinear leading edge, which has a refinement reminiscent of the Perpendicular Gothic tracery found in the east window of the cathedral. The resolution of the curved and perpendicular forms creates a subtle play of light and shadow across the sandstone elevations.

© David Grandorge
© David Grandorge

Internally, it is a clear, bright space: walls are rendered in lime plaster to mimic the stone columns internally; the ceiling is lined with acoustic felt panels; generous natural light sweeps across the exposed stone and timber surfaces; and the polished concrete floor extends to the undercroft, all of which bring a level of comfort to the Fratry. Entry to the Fratry is now through a lightweight, fully-glazed bronze structure accessed via stairs or lift at the southern end of the pavilion. The tall and slender link was designed in collaboration with engineers Structure Workshop.

© Peter Cook
© Peter Cook

Looking up to the bronze lattice overhead, the stanchions divide into a diagrid roof inspired by the stone ceiling motifs in the Fratry pulpit. Contrasting with the heavy sandstone of the pavilion and Fratry, the lightweight link connects the pavilion to the half levels of the refurbished Fratry building, where new entrance openings have been formed. The late 19th-century porch entry to the Fratry has been removed, and the original Robert Smirke doorway - which had been reversed and lowered when the porch was built - has been returned to its original orientation and position, and restored with new hand carving. By doing this, the reliefs and carvings around the doorway are now framed by the new link entrance.

© David Grandorge
© David Grandorge
© Peter Cook
© Peter Cook

Creating the new entrance to the undercroft from the link proved an interesting engineering challenge, as a culvert was found crossing the location of the opening during the preliminary investigation works. The new opening is set centrally on the undercroft arch. Internally, a rich palette of materials aims to give a sumptuous and historic feel, resonating with the quality of the original craftsmanship and materials. Bronze, sandstone, steel, and lime plasters all have rich textures, tones, and patinas. The Fratry project marks the opening of the hall for all for the first time - to visit the building and library and attend events.

© Peter Cook
© Peter Cook

The Fratry has now been equipped to host exhibitions, performances and events. Flexible lighting and new AV systems have been discreetly integrated, and the hall’s adaptability will provide the cathedral with novel income streams. Both the Fratry hall and undercroft have been de-cluttered and opened up by removing partitions and barriers subdividing the spaces. The refurbished undercroft opens up views down its full length, and space can now be used for teaching and learning activities with local schools and communities. Carlisle Cathedral is part of the city’s historic quarter, which includes Tullie House and Carlisle Castle.

© Peter Cook
© Peter Cook

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Project location

Address:7 Abbey St, Carlisle CA3 8TZ, United Kingdom

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "The Fratry Building Renovation at Carlisle Cathedral / Feilden Fowles" 20 Dec 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/953370/the-fratry-cathedral-renovation-feilden-fowles> ISSN 0719-8884
© Peter Cook

Fratry大教堂改造 / Feilden Fowles

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