Canterbury Cathedral has launched a design competition to revitalise the landscape immediately in front of its main entrance.

View of Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral announces landscape design competition

The competition is an opportunity, its organisers claim, for designers to reconsider the way visitors first encounter England’s leading cathedral and Mother Church.

Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedrals precincts were last remodelled in the 1940s. The competition organisers are looking for a creative team that combines sensitivity to the classic and historic qualities of the space with an ability to meet modern expectations.

More than a million visitors enter the precincts every year and the setting of the cathedral is their first contact with this numinous and astonishingly beautiful building, says Brigadier John Meardon, receiver general of Canterbury Cathedral. The welcome we offer them should show us at our best. We are grateful to Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing for generously funding this competition, which is one strand of our programme to conserve and share this building with a wider audience.’

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is managing the competition on behalf of the cathedral and further details of the project and how to register for the competition are available at the dedicated competition microsite. This is an unusual challenge for a team, says MRC chairman Malcolm Reading, mixing landscape and place-making with a respect for a setting with the highest heritage protection. It is a space, he adds, ‘that needs to be welcoming, to offer sanctuary and also opportunities for celebration. We are hoping for collaborations that balance a rich mix of different skills with sensitivity to the needs of visitors, pilgrims and the church community.’

A creative exploration of the project is strongly encouraged along with interesting multi-disciplinary collaborations.

Competitors have until 17 July 2013 to enter the first stage of the competition. All entrants must follow the registration procedure as explained on the competition website.

From the responses, a shortlist of five (the competition’s second stage) will be chosen to work up concept propositions, for which an honorarium will be paid to the unsuccessful teams.

The shortlist will be announced in the late summer and the winning team announced in the autumn.

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