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Coventry Cathedral is a truly unique place, where the ruins of the medieval building stand as a testament to the horrors of the Second World War, and the Spence-designed ‘new’ cathedral represents the promise of hope. Purcell is excited to be providing advice on how to understand, appreciate and retain the significance of the site whilst guiding sustainable future change.

This commission follows the completion of our renovation of the brutalist Clifton Cathedral in Bristol and our continued involvement at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, consolidating Purcell’s reputation as leaders in Post-War architectural conservation. We are privileged to have the responsibility of conserving the only three Post-War cathedrals in England.  

The Phoenix Rising: Coventry’s Post-War heritage

Coventry Cathedral is arguably the most celebrated Post-War building in England and was constructed as a primary component in the wider post-war planning of Coventry following the devastating raids by the Luftwaffe in 1940-42. Designed by modern architect Basil Spence, it is a unique witness to the destruction of the Second World War and a symbol of the reconciliation that followed. The building has international significance as a place of Christian worship and Post-War resurrection and reconciliation

We are working closely with the cathedral’s staff and external stakeholders to understand what is special about the place, identify conflicts and challenges, and provide a conservation management plan to inform future decision-making. Supporting the continued maintenance of these structures as places of worship, as well as allowing complementary new uses requires a tailored response that tackles practical issues head-on whilst minimising impact on the unique overall concept that is the Cathedral. 

Purcell: Leaders in post-war architecture conservation

The architecture of Britain’s Post-War period is currently under an intense period of re-assessment and Purcell has been at the forefront of this research. Our innovative conservation management plan at the Grade II*-listed Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is currently being used as a framework from which to assess significance and make informed repairs to address inherent defects in the modern design. At Clifton Cathedral, our architectural team has demonstrated our understanding of post-war buildings to complete a redesign of the hexagonal roof structure; resolving 45 years of water ingress.

We are committed to sharing our findings and new research, which sheds light on the legacy of the period and offers innovative ways to address new conservation challenges. We are the first conservation practice to employ a heritage consultant with a specialist remit focusing on the architecture of the recent past and our work has recently been included in 100 Churches, 100 Years (C20 Society). Sharing this knowledge is of utmost importance to us and we regularly speak at international conferences including Preserving the Recent Past 3 and The Phoenix Renewed: Sustainability of Post-War Churches and Cathedrals. Underlining all our work on these buildings is knowledge and understanding which, when allied with rigorous consultation and close collaboration, results in the informed management of future change.

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