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World Heritage Day: Our Heritage Expertise

World Heritage Day is held on 18 April each year to celebrate the exceptional, and unique qualities of World Heritage Sites and enhance awareness of the importance of cultural heritage.

Understanding place forms the foundation in everything we do. By understanding how places have evolved, why they are important, and to whom, we provide the best bespoke guidance and advice to enable successful change and development. With an extraordinary, in-depth knowledge of historic buildings and environments, we balance curiosity with rigorous research to help today’s stewards, custodians and decision makers create compelling and appropriate narratives for the future.

Our Heritage Consultancy team balance enthusiasm and expertise to communicate complex issues in engaging ways, making us better equipped to find solutions for each client’s evolving needs. This is paired with an ability to maximise the potential and value of heritage sites whilst conserving and enhancing their significance. We regard old and new as inextricably linked, bringing experience of working with both to create better buildings and environments.

Our Work at World Heritage Sites

Australian Convict Sites

The Australian Convict Sites is a World Heritage Property comprising 11 sites across Australia. Collectively, the sites represent the system of convictism and its association with global transportation as punishment for crime.

Purcell has been working with both state and federal government custodians across several of the sites, including Kingston & Arthur’s Vale, Norfolk Island, the Cascades Female Factory, Coal Mines and Port Artur Historic Sites in Tasmania. In addition, we have prepared a Heritage and Visual Impact Assessment for development adjacent Old Government House and Domain in Parramatta, New South Wales.

To date, advice has included Condition Assessments, Heritage Impact Assessments and Heritage Conservation advice together with principal support by way of project coordination and oversight.

Blaenavon Resource Centre 

Following Blaenavon’s designation as a World Heritage Site in 2001, Purcell was commissioned to transform the abandoned school into a resource centre for the World Heritage Site. Extensive exemplary restoration work was undertaken; the split-level upper and lower schools were unified into one coherent complex without compromising their unique character. 

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Originally established in 597AD, the Cathedral and its Precincts are both a Place of Worship and a major part of a World Heritage Site. Purcell has supported the Surveyor to the Fabric for over twenty years. Works have included the refurbishment of the Grade I listed Choir House and the Grade II* listed Old Palace, the installation of under-floor heating to the Nave and replacement of the Lead Roof to the South East Transept. 

Cromford Mills

One of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution, Cromford Mills forms part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Purcell was commissioned to convert the disused Building 17 for new use. The practice also reordered the Wheatcroft’s Wharf café on Cromford Canal. Essential repairs and maintenance were carried out to both the internal and external fabric of both buildings.

Durham Cathedral Open Treasure

Durham Cathedral is the largest and finest example of Norman architecture in England. Initially commissioned to assess potential improvements to the use of space on Durham Peninsula World Heritage Site, Purcell has had the privilege to be involved in Durham Cathedral’s Open Treasure project since its inception in 2010. Appointed as Cathedral Architect in 2012, Purcell’s York-based Partner Chris Cotton has led our team in the delivery of an extensive programme of work that drew on all three of our core disciplines in Architecture, Masterplanning and Heritage Consultancy. Through our detailed understanding of the fabric and function of this living church, hidden treasures that include spaces and artefacts, are now open and accessible to all.

Harvey’s Foundry

Harvey’s Foundry is a two-hectare site on the western side of the town and is a designated World Heritage Site, containing many statutory listed buildings. Purcell was appointed by the Harvey’s Foundry Trust in September 2011 to develop a scheme to repair and convert two derelict Grade II-listed warehouse buildings and design a new extension to provide additional workspace on the site of a derelict structure destroyed by fire.

James Craig Walk/St Andrew’s Hall 

Purcell designed a large masterplan development for James Craig Walk and St Andrew’s Hall in Edinburgh. St Andrew’s Hall is located at the eastern end of Edinburgh’s Old and New Town World Heritage Site. Originally built in 1800 as a relief church, it was later used as a church hall and most recently has been converted into offices and a customer collection point for a nearby department store.

The site before development

Kresen Kernow

We led the creation of Kresen Kernow, a new archive and local studies centre for Cornwall, forming a part of the regeneration of Redruth. The derelict Redruth Brewery buildings, at the heart of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site in Redruth, have suffered damage as a result of two fires, but they still retain a strong visual appeal, providing an excellent setting for the new centre. 

Our site appraisal and heritage impact assessment informed designs for the purpose-built archive facility, designed to fulfil conservation standards and comprises public search and exhibition spaces, education spaces, workshops, and staff and volunteer facilities.

National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum is the UK’s leading maritime museum and the largest of its kind in the world. Located in Greenwich in London, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the large complex of historic buildings welcomes over 1.5 million visitors every year. Purcell was appointed as the heritage consultants and conservation architects renovating and developing various areas of the museum including the Sammy Ofer Wing, Nelson’s ship in a bottle plinth and the four Endeavour Galleries.

Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster and Westminster was inscribed as a cultural World Heritage Site in 1987. Purcell is currently overseeing a framework of restoration and refurbishment at the Palace of Westminster including repairs to all of the cast-iron roofs and repairs to the stonework and fabric of the building. 

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