Cathedral of the Assumption / Conservation, Architecture


Conservation and refurbishment of an important 19th Century Italianate style cathedral (designed by J.J. McCarthy, with later works by George Ashlin). The client’s brief was developed over a series of preliminary meetings during which all aspects of the cathedral fabric and services were reviewed. The principal objectives were the integration of new services (heating, electrical and lighting), the repair of defective plaster work, and redecoration of the interior. The design solution followed careful analysis of historic photographs and other evidence relating to previous decorative schemes on the interior. A decision was made to reintroduce bands of painted decorative stencils on the ceilings and walls so as to visually re-establish the structural grid which had been lost through over painting. The resulting decorative scheme was worked up in collaboration with a historic painting specialist. The electric lighting scheme was designed to compliment the geometry and structure of the interior. The lighting scheme is computerised with a number of standard settings designed to highlight key features of the interior at particular times and during key activities. The central heating system was upgraded with a new boiler and thermostatically controlled system which ensure that the temperature of the interior never drops below 14°C. This has proved very successful in maintaining the building fabric with no significant increase in fuel bills. The sanctuary area, with its important Italian renaissance tabernacle, was paved in sandstone and a contemporary baptismal font and holy oils repository were introduced in west transept.