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Feilden+Mawson wins £13m Norwich Castle revamp

F+M partner Hugh Feilden
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Feilden+Mawson (F+M) has won a publically tendered contract for a £13 million overhaul of Grade I-listed Norwich Castle

The locally-based practice defeated an unnamed shortlist of rival firms to land the £800,000 contract to deliver a major overhaul of the ancient Norman keep, which was built between 1095 and 1110 on a site overlooking Norwich city centre.

The ‘Gateway to Medieval England’ project – backed by Norfolk County Council – will restore the landmark structure’s internal layout to create a ‘powerful immersive learning experience’ where visitors can explore the former royal palace.

F+M partner Hugh Feilden (pictured) – whose father was for many years a principal adviser and architect to Norwich Cathedral and who also worked on the landmark building himself – will lead the scheme.

Commenting on the win, he said: ‘It is a quite remarkable honour to have worked on major projects on both the Castle and Cathedral, which were built at the same time and are thought likely to have been designed by the same master mason.

‘F+M has known about the vision for the Castle for some time and, with our extensive background in heritage and conservation, we have been tracking the project closely. It’s a very prestigious project in our “home” city and we have been very keen to be part of it. Knowing how keen competition was for the work, F+M was thrilled to hear we had been selected.’

Describing the practice’s next steps, Feilden continued: ‘From now until about next March we will be designing the scheme to meet listed building approval and criteria for Heritage Lottery Fund support. Then the focus will switch to technical design. Work on the castle fabric will start in 2019 and take about a year to complete.

‘It’s typical that the paperwork takes longer than the construction! A lot of very delicate decisions need to be made. There will be various alternatives for each stage and my job is to set out the options. I’ll guide them through the benefits of each one and they will go to the project team for a consensus decision.

‘There is not a single right or wrong way of doing the things that have to be done – this is an absolutely unique project in Norfolk.’

The castle was first established by William the Conqueror shortly after the invasion of 1066, and the 21m-high keep, faced with Caen stone over a flint core, was erected between 1095 and 1110. Since 1894 it has been home to the Norwich Museum.

The project aims to restore the ‘historical and architectural integrity’ of the keep by recreating its original internal layout. The upper floors will be transformed into a replica of the former Norman royal palace while other areas will feature a community venue, learning area and commercial facilities.

A first round application for a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant to deliver the project was approved in May last year and a second round application is planned for October this year. The project is planned to complete in 2020.

Applicants were expected to hold ‘considerable experience’ of working with listed buildings in sensitive settings, and be prepared to work flexibly around HLF and council constraints. Norwich-based structural conservation engineer Conisbee has also been appointed to work on the scheme.

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