A Year With Our UK and AP Studios: Heritage and Innovation in 2022

23 December 2022
The recently restored and completed Elizabeth Tower

2022 has been an exciting year for Purcell as we continue to expand our diverse portfolio of work to sustainably protect, modernise, and extend buildings across the UK and Asia Pacific. The breadth of work in our current portfolio is a testament to the commitment of our team.

2022 has been full of highlights for Purcell, with one of our proudest moments being the completion of the Elizabeth Tower restoration. 

Our specialist team led the works through the largest and most comprehensive conservation project in the tower’s history, marking the first time BIM (Building Information Modelling) has been used by Strategic Estates in the ongoing conservation programme for the Palace of Westminster. 

The Elizabeth Tower restoration © UK Parliament and Andy Bailey

We are just as proud of our flourishing studio culture at Purcell: 2022 marked not only the practice’s 75th anniversary, and tenth year of operation in Australia, but the first anniversary of transitioning to Employee Ownership, a significant new chapter in our continued, collective evolution. 

Our Hong Kong and Australian studios were able to reunite in person for the first time since the pandemic, meeting up in sunny Sydney to celebrate all three important milestones at once. In addition to our CEO, Mark Goldspink, making the trip down under for the celebrations, our Sydney and Melbourne offices were delighted to welcome two architects from our UK offices on a year’s secondment in September. 

Our Asia Pacific team

Our commitment to developing skills through a blended learning approach took members of our team off to Rome, Italy, for Purcell’s annual week-long Classical Drawing Programme, while our RIBA-accredited Conservation School was held on location at Canterbury Cathedral to give participants a hands-on, practical learning experience.  

These commitments to our Employer Owners were rewarded in November, when we were ecstatic to be named Architect Employer of the Year at the 2022 Architect of the Year Awards.  

We were thrilled to see Battersea Power Station open to the public in October following a landmark urban regeneration project, which over 20 Purcell team members have worked on over an almost decade-long project. The extensive brick conservation work was honoured with the Innovation Award at this year’s Brick Awards.

Battersea Power Station

Starting and ending 2022 on a high note in our Asia Pacific region, the WWF’s Island House received a Special Mention in the Restoration Category of the postponed 2021 HKICON Awards in January, while Adelaide’s Bice Building collected the MIPIM SIlver Award for the Bice Building in the Best Refurbished Building Category just last month.  

Cobham Dairy, God’s House Tower, and The Story Museum were all handed RIBA South/South East Awards, with Cobham Dairy also awarded the special RIBA Award for Conservation. We were also pleased to see Norwich County Hall win Most Inclusive Venue at the Blue Badge Access Awards – the first time a Purcell project has picked up the accolade. 

Left to right: Island House, The Bice Building, Cobham Dairy

In June, our team won a competition to restore and extend Colchester's iconic Balkerne Tower, affectionately known as 'Jumbo'. Our work will transform the nineteenth century Romanesque Revival water tower, giving it a new public use. 

2022 also saw the public opening of the National Trust’s Castlefield Viaduct (which our Manchester team can be seen enjoying the new park-in-the-sky in the photo below); the completion of the Manchester Museum (opening to the public next year); and completion of Rochdale Heritage Action Zone. 

We were delighted to see pupils back at Radley College’s Chapel. Our refurbishment and extension of the Grade II* listed chapel has combined 21st Century technology with traditional craftmanship to provide much-needed additional seating for the growing school. The project was awarded the Supreme Award at the Brick Awards 2022 and was shortlisted for an AJ Architecture Award. 

After being closed to the public and covered in scaffolding for a lengthy period, our team were overjoyed to see Oxburgh Hall open after an extensive restoration project. The project to repair the 15th century moated manor house was featured on an episode of the Discovery Channel’s Heritage Rescue earlier this year. You can watch presenter Nick Knowles go behind the scenes of the restoration on YouTube.

Looking forward to 2023 and beyond

2023 will see the highly anticipated public reopening of the National Portrait Gallery, following its completion on site earlier this year. The gallery’s major Inspiring People project, a collaboration between Purcell and Jamie Fobert Architects, has seen the Grade I-listed building adapted, restored, and transformed, ensuring its sustainable future as a vibrant, world class institution. Our diaries are marked for the opening on June 22. 

Our restoration of Manchester Town Hall is now around halfway through the construction phase. The extensive upgrades will bring the magnificent Alfred Waterhouse building in line with modern standards for accessibility and carbon efficiency, playing a significant role in the citywide road to net zero and securing its long-term future.  

 Earlier this month, the council shared an insightful video update on the project, which you can watch below.

Our Town Hall Project Update

In West London, the lovingly restored and refurbished Boston Manor House is preparing to welcome its local community back through its doors next year as a new heritage asset. The Grade I-listed Jacobean manor house’s service wing has recently become the new home of the Jimmy Choo Shoe Academy: you can read more about the exciting new occupants in the Financial Times’ HTSI.

Early 2023 will see the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) complete on site, where we are working to provide a range of services. Central to the Hobart community, the TMAG is one of the oldest museum and art galleries in Australia.

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG)

Next year will also see works progress on the Gradel Quadrangles project for New College, University of Oxford, where we are delighted to be part of the Sir Robert McAlpine team delivering this complex project in collaboration with David Kohn Architects; the Sharing Historic Barts project; Brighton’s iconic Madeira Terrace, and the National Gallery, where the competition winning NG200 project recently gained planning and listed building consent.  

Works on the roof at the Gradel Quadrangles; Purcell Chairman Liz Smith meets HRH King Charles III during a royal visit to the Sharing Historic Barts Project; Madeira Terrace visualisation; a visualisation of the National Gallery's reimagined Sainsbury Wing.

As we look to 2023, we are hoping for another prosperous year for Purcell, our growing team, and all our clients and collaborators. We can’t wait to ring in the New Year with the now completed and restored Elizabeth Tower!