Caruso St John Architects

Location: Canterbury, UK
Client: Canterbury Cathedral Dean and Chapter
Project Status: Competition, first prize; Ongoing project

Caruso St John were appointed for this commission in 2016 following a limited competition.

The project involves the design of a new organ loft that will stand in the north quire aisle in the oldest part of the Cathedral adjacent to the quire. The loft is a substantial structure providing a platform for the organist so that they have a clear view of the choir and choirmaster. The loft is part of the Quire Organ project to replace the organ and achieve a more balanced sound within the Cathedral.

The design for the loft refers to the spirit of Gothic architecture, which accommodates the work of many hands and minds in an additive composition of great spatial complexity. The Cathedral itself is like a City, made up of architectures at many different scales, from the vast enveloping vault of the Nave, to the smaller Chapels and Porches, and the mini-buildings of the Pulpits and Tombs. The Gothic, with its vigorous internal logic, is distinctive for the its greater ability than other styles to absorb asymmetry, additions, and the differences that arise as a building is extended over centuries. The proposed design is functional but also engages with this spirit. It is conceived as an independent little building with a vertical proportion, a tight asymmetrical arrangement of its parts and a delicacy in its making, that can take its place amongst the many other delicate architectures of the Cathedral.