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Cambridge Architects Win Heritage Award

The Heritage Award, intriguingly titled Spirit of Ingenuity Architectural Award 2010,  has been won by Cambridge architects, Freeland Rees Roberts.

Accepted by director Henry Freeland at the RIBA* East Awards evening at Downing College, the Award was presented for leading to completion the project at the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds of the construction and decoration of the wood vault (ceiling) of the new tower.

Accolades have been showered upon the skill and beauty of the workmanship by visitors to the cathedral from the moment the ceiling became visible, however the RIBA Award is especially important to Henry Freeland and the team: it is acknowledgement and recognition by their architectural peers of what has been achieved.

To say that the project was challenging is, if anything, to understate the case. It required a combination of architectural discipline, clever engineering, quality building and outstanding craftsmanship to bring the ceiling into being. The responsibility for the whole rested with Freeland Rees Roberts, from the moment that they were invited by the Dean & Chapter to take forward the design based upon earlier work by the Gothic Design Partnership.

Henry Freeland: One of the more interesting problems to overcome was how to put the ceiling into position 90 feet above the cathedral floor, and, moreover, without interrupting the life of daily worship. The title of the Award is rather more appropriate than at times we would have liked.

Nevertheless, there the ceiling is, in its glowing heraldic colours, testament to the team that built it, led by Freeland Rees Roberts.

I suppose, comments Henry Freeland, that we have become known for solving problems over the years, for overcoming the challenges of a difficult site through architectural design solutions. The cathedral ceiling represents in good measure that aspect of our work, however we could have achieved nothing without the invaluable contributions of the builders, the joiners, the engineers and the painters, and their dedication. We are immensely grateful for the team they became.

To go from the sublime to the cor blimey: at the same Awards evening, Freeland Rees Roberts received a commendation for their design of the visitors’ lavatories at the 16th-century Tudor gatehouse, Layer Marney Tower, in Essex.

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