To improve accessibility for visitors to Winchester Cathedral’s Winchester Bible, situated on the upper level of a new exhibition centre in the Cathedral’s South Transept, a lift was proposed. The construction of the lift, which involves making an opening in the vault, was deemed to risk creating localised structural instabilities. Dyer & Butler hired Ramboll to provide engineering consultancy services for the project.
The Winchester Cathedral, situated in Hampshire, England, was founded in 1079. In the intervening years, the cathedral has developed into one of Europe’s largest Gothic cathedrals. The building, outside of itself being a national treasure and a Grade 1 listed building, also contains a number of relics – including the 12th century Winchester Bible.
The bible, which is housed on the upper level of a new exhibition centre in the Cathedral’s South Transept, has been poorly accessible – only around 10% of visitors catch a glimpse of the treasure. In a bid to improve access to the South Transept, a lift has been planned, with a total cost of £20.5 million, partially funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The lift, which involves making an opening in the vault, comes with a number of structural risks to the building. Project leaders Dyer & Butler commissioned Ramboll to provide a range of engineering consultancy services, related to surveying, analysis, modelling, monitoring and lift setting out. As part of the project, Ramboll used a number of techniques, including 3D lasers and 3D modelling, as well as remote sensor monitoring to better predict movement and stress during the cutting open of the Gothic vaulting.
A spokesperson for the firm remarks, “Such major intervention in a cathedral of this age is a world first because it involves cutting an opening in the centre of a medieval floor and quadripartite stone masonry vault. The opening is for a lift that will carry visitors to the upper level of a new exhibition centre in the Cathedral’s South Transept. This will improve visitor access to the Cathedral’s greatest treasures, including the world-famous Winchester Bible.”