Niall McLaughlin Architects has won the competition to transform Auckland Castle in County Durham into a national museum of religion and religious art
The practice is working with conservation specialist Purcell on the revamp of the historic home of the bishops of Durham which is considered the most significant ecclesiastical complex in Europe, after the Vatican and Avignon.
Auckland Castle was bought by milionaire philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer who aims to turn it into a major visitor attraction and heritage site in the North East.
The client is bidding for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in support of the project and set up the Auckland Castle Trust to oversee the restoration and development of the castle and grounds.
The central attraction will be the rare paintings by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán - a collection rescued thanks to a donation by Ruffer - ‘considered to be some of the most significant religious treasures in Europe and part of the castleʼs history for more than 250 years’.