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Case Study: Traction 400 (Leonardo) Installed at Durham Cathedral

Axess2 was contacted by Purcell Architects in 2013 to install a lift at the old and beautiful Durham Cathedral. The main challenge, of creating the concept in the first place, was the specifications of the building itself. The Cathedral is a Grade I listed building, meaning it’s of exceptional interest, so our entire project revolved around those strict restrictions.

This also meant that the lift had to be carefully chosen and capable of being tailored to the original architecture and design of the building. The contractor SYL Simpson placed the order in June 2014, and the lift was installed in November 2015, after several meetings.

These meetings were especially important, because the significance of the building meant that there were multiple teams involved, so maintaining regular contact was vital. The meetings also served to ensure that each team was up to date on the project and there were no miscommunications.

To choose the right lift for the Cathedral we had to consider several factors, such as how it would interact with its surroundings and how we could preserve the original architecture of the building. The lift had to be functional and practical, as well as invisible, so that it wouldn’t stand out from the structural design of the Norman style.

We decided on the Traction 400 (Leonardo). The Leonardo was the perfect solution for Durham Cathedral, as it provided a great degree of accessibility while obeying all the rules specified for a listed building. Its bespoke glass enclosure and frameless glass doors, as well as its glass panoramic cabin and bronze stainless steel finish, meant that the lift blended in perfectly with the architecture of the building.

This choice of lift also meant that we could work with a shallow pit, which was important since we couldn’t excavate the area, as that would remove part of the original architecture. The Leonardo was installed 6m in front of the entrance to the Cathedral, so it’s immediately noticeable by anyone that needs to use it, while remaining non-disruptive of its surroundings.

Custom-made for two stops, the Leonardo was also installed to comply with the specific guidelines of the Disability Discrimination Act, which makes it easily accessible for wheelchair users. There are separate entry and exit doors in the lift, and the cabin forms a platform of 1100x1400mm in dimension. We worked closely together with glass designers OAG so that the lift could achieve the right aesthetic for the Cathedral.

The Leonardo was a great bespoke solution with specifications tailored just for Durham Cathedral. This way we were able to meet all the requirements of a listed building while providing a high quality lift that all visitors to the Cathedral can enjoy.

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