RIBA Project Architect of the Year
RIBA Judges comments:
Richard Griffiths’ work at St Albans Cathedral and Abbey Church covers a wide range of conservation projects from repair to small scale interventions. He has provided a guiding hand on the direction of this work over a considerable time in an intelligent and sensitive way that has avoided pitfalls of excessive and damaging restoration as well as suspect reconstruction. From discussions with the client it is obvious that this guiding hand has been much appreciated and his work highly regarded.
The conservation work has included preserving the deteriorating medieval clunch masonry of the original cloisters and the cleaning, conserving and lighting of the 13th Century west porches. He has overseen the conservation of medieval wall paintings as well as exposing the glories of the Lady Chapel which were concealed under layers of grime built up over a hundred years.
Improvements have been made for better access throughout the building. These interventions are all discrete, particularly at the western entrance where new ramps lead up to the porches. Inside it has been a challenge because of the multiple levels consisting of a total of twenty-two steps in various locations but ramps and lifts have been successfully integrated. The layout of the nave has been altered to allow for better liturgy that includes new furniture, raised platforms and creating a processional route between nave and choir. All these are reversible and furniture can be cleverly stacked away to allow the flexibility in use that the Cathedral requires. To suit new requirements the choir stalls have been extended. On first impression this looks invisible yet there are clues designed in that allow a reading of the original format.
As a body of restoration, repair and sensitive small interventions with an intelligent overseeing approach, this is exemplary conservation work.
Photographer: Richard Griffiths