The unique architectural design has captured the imagination of architects across the country. Indeed, so much so, that it was awarded the Architect’s Choice award at the 2013 Brick Development Awards (BDA).
The brickwork itself embodies a sense of timelessness, tradition and calmness in keeping with the monastic way of life. Indeed, this aspect of the project was specifically chosen to compliment other elements of the architecture, and to continue to project a sense of both silence and light that would reflect the building’s purpose. With the monastery located in a traditional village, the use of a singular material also serves to ensure the building is coherent and expresses a sense of community appropriate to the area.
Of course, in order to deliver the effect intended by the architects, Austin-Smith Lord, the project required the brickwork to be delicately matched to the designs. Wienerberger’s Con Mosso brick was chosen for its soft and textured appearance, which makes it equally suitable for internal as well as external use. As such, the brick was used internally most notably within the chapel and the cloister. On the façade, the appearance subtly changes according to the time of day and weather conditions; the changing shape of the shadows deliberately exudes a sense of calmness and tranquility.
Whilst the building is modern in its expression, it also showcases a traditional monastic design in its form and layout that has successfully created a striking but harmonious transition between internal and external living. The garden is a wildlife haven, which leads through to a kitchen garden and orchard that provides homegrown fruit and vegetables. Within the chapel interior, the headers project at a higher level in order to break up sound reflections and maintain the peaceful atmosphere.
In addition to the chapel and the cloister, the building also has a refectory, community room, library, workspaces, guest house, 24 cells, two hermitage cells and six fully accessible infirmary cells. As with everything on this project, each space was made to the highest quality, while being both comfortable and modest, befitting the Carmelite philosophy.
Beyond the brickwork, the building was recognised for its minimal energy requirements. By incorporating natural ventilation, improved insulation, maximised daylight and renewable energy - such as ground source heating pumps and solar water heating - it is able to function as a sustainable community.
For centuries past, monasteries have been built of brick and the Carmelite Monastery is no different in this respect. However, the bricks provided by Wienerberger allowed the building to deliver from both a traditional and a modern architectural aesthetic through the cumulative effect of its textured brickwork. The result was a project that Wienerberger was extremely proud to have been a part of; a building of gentle integrity, perfectly executed to provide a home for the Carmelite Sisters in Liverpool long into the future.