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Norwich Cathedral Visitors’ Centre

Norwich Cathedral Visitors’ Centre

Gold Award & Commercial & Public Access Award Winner 2004

Location: Norwich
Client/Owner: The Dean and Chapter, Norwich Cathedral
Architect: Hopkins Architects
Structural Engineer: Buro Happold
Main Contractor/Builder: RG Carter
Joinery: Coulson Building Group, Constructional Timber
Wood Species: English Oak

Norwich Cathedral’s expressly modern refectory uses a traditional ecclesiastical material, English oak, to complement its ancient surroundings.

The restaurant, the first phase of the visitors’ centre, is on the site of the original monastery refectory and is linked to a medieval cloister.

Hopkins Architects design celebrates the meeting of old and new. ‘An extremely high quality design that is very intelligently situated and organised and incorporates only the best quality finishes,’ the judges say.

Supported by English oak columns and finger props, flitched with stainless steel, the refectory’s cast lead roof is cantilevered towards the original cloister wall. Diners sit under an oak panelled ceiling on the first floor,above an oak-clad ‘box’ housing the kitchens, offices and public facilities. The complex engineering of the cantilevered roof takes advantage of oak’s exceptional strength.

The wood is worked well by Coulson Building Group and Constructional Timer. ‘The workmanship was fantastic throughout, a real achievement in itself,’ the judges comment. It will also last for a very long time, as befits an addition to such an ancient building.