Open Treasure, Open Access

Durham Cathedral’s beautiful architecture has led it to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site which it clearly deserves due to its astounding features and historic past. However, this can actually make it considerably more difficult to upgrade or renovate.

When my team and I at Axess2 were approached to install a lift for the Cathedral’s new Open Treasure exhibition, we knew that preserving the original structural design was one of the most important things to consider. While this presented a challenge, we welcomed it with enthusiasm. The result is a new lift installed at the Cathedral that can be used by anyone and that allows access to certain parts of the building that were previously only accessible by stairs.

Why We Installed a Lift at the Cathedral

While the Cathedral could be easily accessed through a ramp outside, the inside of the building was a different matter. Its original architectural features meant that accessibility was limited, and wheelchair users would be unable to move around freely, so by having a lift installed the Cathedral was able to provide equal access to everyone.

We installed the Traction 400 (Leonardo) lift in front of the entrance, so anyone that walks in can immediately see it and effortlessly access the Monk’s Dormitory. This lift also has tactile markings in the controls, another feature that complies with the specifications of the Disability Discrimination Act.

What We Had to Consider

Because Durham Cathedral is a Grade I listed building, we had several considerations to bear in mind to ensure the preservation of the original Norman architecture. The project couldn’t move forward without the very important decision of choosing the right lift, as it had to be able to meet the restrictions placed upon such a building.

The Leonardo allowed us to make minimal alterations in the original structure of the building, as we didn’t even need to excavate the area thanks to the lift having a very shallow pit – and its glass enclosure meant the Cathedral’s architecture was visible at all times.

Although the Leonardo is a modern lift, we made sure it could also blend into its surroundings – for this, we opted to add bronze stainless steel finishes to all of the lift’s steel work, so that it could match the design of the Cathedral. In the end we accomplished what we set out to achieve, and gave the building a practical and yet aesthetically pleasing and non-intrusive lift.

Our Experience with Durham Cathedral

Not only did we enjoy every challenge associated with the installation of this lift, as they allowed us to be even more creative during our brainstorming process, but we also thoroughly enjoyed working with the fantastic team at Durham Cathedral.

As the marketing manager at Axess 2, my years of knowledge and experience in the lift industry let me say with confidence that it’s vital in a project like this to always remain understanding when confronted with issues like the ones we faced – by doing so, the Cathedral’s team greatly contributed to an incredibly positive and memorable experience.

Upgrading a listed building of historical and architectural significance provided us with a rewarding experience that we enjoyed every step of the way, and being able to make access available to more people is a true pleasure.

By Nathan Massey, Marketing Manager at Axess 2.


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