Cathedral ceiling in running for award

ARCHITECTS who worked on a striking tower ceiling at St Edmundsbury Cathedral have been shortlisted for a prestigious architectural award.

Freeland Rees Roberts Architects, based in Cambridge, and Gothic Design Practice are finalists in the heritage category of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) East Spirit of Ingenuity Awards for 2010.

In January a ceremony took place to mark the completion of the magnificent wooden, guilded fan-vaulted ceiling in the Millennium Tower of the Bury St Edmunds cathedral.

The ceiling, which weighs about six tonnes, is made of oak and is guilded and painted in blue, green and red.

Architect Henry Freeland, director of Freeland Rees Roberts Architects, said: “Obviously it’s very, very good news to get through to being shortlisted for something like this.

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“It was a unique project. It wasn’t designed by me – it was designed by Gothic Design Practice. We were brought in to finish the project.”

He added: “It all relied on having a fantastic team of contractors who were made to do quite a complex operation and it all went really well and it was successful.

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“It was a very unusual job – trying to put a ceiling up a tower when you don’t have any access.”

The ceiling was hoisted in large, rib structure components 45 metres from the crossing floor, and when in its final position under the tower roof craftsmen climbed up onto scaffolding to fix moulded frames and panels into the rib structure to make the finishing touches.

It was mounted with 42 heraldic coats of arms of the dioceses of the Church of England.

Mr Freeland said three contractors worked together on the project, which involved about 50 people.

Taylor Made Joinery Interiors Ltd, from Bildeston, and FA Valiant & Son Ltd, from Barrow, were two of the firms involved.

A cathedral spokeswoman said: “The cathedral is very pleased to hear about this shortlisting for the award.”

She added how the tower ceiling was the final part of the Millennium Project, which also involved building the tower itself.

Freeland Rees Roberts Architects are also shortlisted for visitor facilities at Layer Marney Tower, near Colchester, in the heritage category, and Pick Everard has been shortlisted for the Gainsborough Community Library, in Ipswich, in the community architecture category.

The finalists will be visited by an awards jury next month and the winners in each category will be announced at the RIBA East Regional Awards Dinner and Ceremony on September 24.

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