Canterbury Cathedral Organ Loft
Canterbury, United Kingdom 2016–2020
Client: Canterbury Cathedral Dean and Chapter UNESCO World Heritage Site
The new organ loft at Canterbury Cathedral provides an elevated place in the central part of the Cathedral for the organist to sit at their console and play, in a position close to the choir and within clear sight of the choirmaster. The new loft stands in the North Quire, in the oldest part of the building, between two stone columns, and is separated from the choir by a stone screen that dates from the twelfth century.
The timber box for the organist is raised up on a light steel framework, which distributes the load of the structure evenly onto the old stone floor. The light frame gives the structure a visual transparency where it stands in front of the stone tracery of the choir screen. The new loft was part of a larger project, coordinated by the cathedral architect, to improve the performance and arrangement of the cathedral organ.
The Cathedral itself is like a city; it is made up of architectures at many different scales, from the vast enveloping vault of the Nave, to the smaller Chapels and Porches, and the mini buildings of the Pulpits and Tombs. The Gothic style of its architecture, with its vigorous internal logic, is distinctive for its ability to absorb asymmetry, additions, and the differences that arise as a building is extended over centuries. The design of the new loft engages with this spirit. It is conceived as an independent little building with a vertical proportion, a tight asymmetrical arrangement of its parts, and a delicacy in its making, which can take its place amongst the many other delicate architectures of the Cathedral.
Canterbury, United Kingdom
The Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Caruso St John Architects
Adam Caruso, Peter St John, Rod Heyes
Price & Myers LLP, The Morton Partnership LLP (cathedral engineers)
Ritchie & Daffin Ltd.
Cathedral ceiling plan drawn by Liam Wright