Details

Keywords Change this

Modernism, Churches, Church

Project timeline

1962 – 1967

Type

Religious

Location Change this

Mount Pleasant
L3 5TQ Liverpool
United Kingdom

Also known as Change this

Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King

Architect Change this

__

Article last edited by Bostjan on
June 21st, 2019

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Change this

Liverpool, United Kingdom
by Frederick Gibberd Change this
1 of 5

Description Change this

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Liverpool and the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool, England. The Grade II* Metropolitan Cathedral is one of Liverpool's many listed buildings. The cathedral's architect, Frederick Gibberd, was the winner of a worldwide design competition. Construction began in 1962 and was completed in 1967. Earlier designs for a cathedral were proposed in 1933 and 1953, but none were completed.

Concept

Gibberd designed a circular building with the altar at its centre, and by transforming the roof of the crypt into an elevated platform, with the cathedral standing at one end. The Cathedral is built in concrete with a Portland stone cladding and an aluminium covering to the roof. Its plan is circular, having a diameter of 59 m, with 13 chapels around its perimeter. The shape of the Cathedral is conical, and it is surmounted by a tower in the shape of a truncated cone. The building is supported by 16 boomerang-shaped concrete trusses which are held together by two ring beams, one at the bends of the trusses and the other at their tops. Flying buttresses are attached to the trusses, giving the cathedral its tent-like appearance. Rising from the upper ring beam is a lantern tower, containing windows of stained glass, and at its peak is a crown of pinnacles.

The entrance is at the top of a wide flight of steps leading up from Hope Street. Above the entrance is a large wedge-shaped structure. This acts as a bell tower, the four bells being mounted in rectangular orifices towards the top of the tower. Below these is a geometric relief sculpture, designed by William Mitchell, which includes three crosses. To the sides of the entrance doors are more reliefs in fibreglass by Mitchell, which represent the symbols of the Evangelists. The steps which lead up to the cathedral were only completed in 2003, when a building which obstructed the stairway path was acquired and demolished by developers.

Interior

The focus of the interior is the altar which faces the main entrance. It is made of white marble from Skopje, Macedonia, and is 3 m long. The floor is also of marble in grey and white designed by David Atkins. The benches, concentric with the interior, were designed by Frank Knight. Above is the tower with large areas of stained glass designed by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens in three colours, yellow, blue and red, representing the Trinity. The glass is 3 cm thick, the pieces of glass being bonded with epoxy resin, in concrete frames. Around the perimeter is a series of chapels. Some of the chapels are open, some are closed by almost blank walls, and others consists of a low space under a balcony. Opposite the entrance is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, above which is the organ.

Structural Problems

The Cathedral was built quickly and economically, and this led to problems with the fabric of the building, including leaks. A programme of repairs was carried out during the 1990s. The building had been faced with mosaic tiles, but these were impossible to repair and were replaced with glass-reinforced plastic, which gave it a thicker appearance. The aluminium in the lantern was replaced by stainless steel, and the slate paving of the platform was replaced with concrete flags.

Sources

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