Tonkin Liu submits plans for £5m York Minster Masonry Skills Center

The proposed £5million Center of Excellence for Heritage Craft Skills will create new facilities for craftspeople by ‘re-arranging, repurposing and renewing’ existing blocks.

Describing that the current facilities available to its craft workforce are ‘limited and inadequate’, York Minster said the program would enable the teaching of historic building and repair skills essential to the preservation of the cathedral .

A two-time Stephen Lawrence Prize winner, Tonkin Liu won the job following a guest competition last year.

The submitted project includes two buildings within the wider grounds of York Minster – a Heritage Quad and a Works and Technology Hub – which will house workshops, CNC equipment and residences for those involved in the cycle being repaired, restoration and development at York Minster. .

The proposed heritage quad reuses an existing U-shaped block behind 2 Minster Court between the city wall and the cathedral, adding a new wing under a green-roofed timber structure to create a complete quad.

Arranged around a working courtyard garden, the quad will be used by masons, scaffolders, gardeners, apprentices and researchers, as well as visitors.

The second building, the technological pole, will restructure the brick workshops to the south of the cathedral and will also have a wooden roof.

According to the practice, the program will create “an inspiring workshop that improves the daily functioning of different teams and introduces advanced digital machines.”

The studio has previously stated that photovoltaic panels and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) will provide electricity for the daytime use of the studio’s machinery and that it is aiming for operational zero carbon.

Alex McCallion, York Minster’s Director of Works and Enclosure, said: ‘It takes a multi-disciplinary team of skilled heritage craftsmen and experts in their field to maintain and care for the continuous cycle of repair, restoration , conservation and development of York Minster, its ancient buildings and monuments.Our existing stone yard houses the full range of craft and commercial skills that are essential to achieve this.

“Despite this, the facilities available to our skilled workforce are limited and inadequate, against a backdrop of declining craft skills. We also recognize the need to keep pace with modern innovations and processes such as digital technology, data digitization and computer-aided design.

He added: ‘[This centre] will therefore not only preserve and develop the ancient craftsmanship that has supported the cathedral over the centuries, but will also ensure the long-term environmental, financial and heritage sustainability of it for future generations to enjoy. as we do today.

An application for the project, which is supported by the York Minster Fund, was made to York City Council earlier this month.

If the proposal is approved this summer, work could begin on site later this year, with the new facilities operational in early 2024.

Project details

Customer York Minster
Architect Tonkin Liu
Wealth Advisor Donald Insall Associates, Manchester
structural engineer Webb Yates
Sustainability Greengauge
Horticulturist Nigel Dunnet
Lighting Advisor Sewing

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