Pro Cathedral, Bristol

Retaining external character after conversion to residential use

This diocesan cathedral was built in the Greek revival style on a large, well-placed site in Clifton, Bristol. When the main walls were up to roof level, ground settlement occurred and revealed underlying faults. The project was abandoned for 20 years and then completed with a temporary roof to serve as the diocesan cathedral up to the 1970s, when the current cathedral was built nearby.

Along with an ancillary nunnery and bishop’s palace, it became semi-redundant and was placed on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register. After many attempts to demolish the building by developers, we were appointed to explore how its shell could be converted to residential use.

To create the funds necessary to overcome the instability by rock anchoring, we proposed replacing the ruinous bishop’s palace with a scheme of new apartments. We also showed how the church and nunnery could be converted without detriment to the integrity of the external character and internal legibility of the structure. It was important to understand the intentions of the two early 19th century architects involved in the two stages of the cathedral’s design. Much research was undertaken in the diocesan archives.

With the benefit of planning permission and listed building consent, the site was then sold and the conversion project was completed. This has allowed an important and interesting structure to continue adding to the rich fabric of the area.