Project / Conservation

Winchester Cathedral Learning Centre

Bringing tradition and innovation together

Mann Williams worked with Hampshire County Council Architects to design a stainless steel and green oak framed tythe barn that would function as a learning centre. Bringing together traditional and innovative construction techniques, the new building sits comfortably within the ancient context of the Cathedral Close.

The simple lines of the finished building belie its engineering complexity. A number of 3D models were used both to develop the overall concept and then refine individual details such as the nodes of the tie rod lattice.

Project Lead
Photo of Henry Pinder
Henry Pinder
Project Team
  • Value £1.95m
  • Location Winchester
  • Client Winchester Cathedral
  • Completion 2016
Winchester Cathedral Edu Centre Oak Frame 9

Hidden support

The traditional exposed wooden pegs of a green oak frame are combined with all manner of hidden stainless-steel fixings, stiffeners and reinforcing plates. This invisible assistance adapts this time-honoured method of building for the modern form and the clean lines the building required.

A majestic view

Internally, a high-ceilinged auditorium space is formed using an expressed and beautifully engineered network of diagonally braced stainless-steel ties. A fully glazed façade offering views of the Cathedral is achieved by using a system for sway stiffness, hidden within the timber frame.

WCLC Image HI5 CREDIT HCC ARCHITECTS photographer Nick Cane
WCLC Image HI3 CREDIT HCC ARCHITECTS photographer Nick Cane

A word from the project lead

This site had plenty of constraints to keep us on our toes: it was set within a walled back-garden with little access, on a Scheduled Ancient Monument, surrounded by a range of Grade I listed buildings, and underlain by 3m of soft ground with significant 14th Century archaeology. Our solution was to design a lightweight superstructure, a drainage scheme with minimal impact, and a shallow ‘raft foundation’ which sits gently on the ground to avoid interfering with archaeological layers below.