Matfen hall was built in 1832 for Sir William Blackett, 6th Baronet. The impressive gothic style mansion features an extravagant full height gothic hall with traditional stone arches. These historic arches were the inspiration behind two new timber structures situated in the central courtyard of the mansion.
The current owners use the mansion as a luxury hotel, spa and golf resort and it has been widely acknowledged as the best luxury hotel in the Northeast of England. However, in order to keep their reputation as the pinnacle of the Northeast, the owners continue to invest in the hotel to provide an experience that is second to none. The hotel had an unused courtyard in the centre of the building that has therefore been developed into a stunning restaurant and seating area.
The lower half of the courtyard hosts an elegant fine dining experience situated under a glazed rooflight supported by tight radius glulam tusks that connect to the existing 19th century stone. Concealed connectors were used to provide a seamless transition from the old structure to the new structure while also allowing open spans for a glass roof which maximises the natural light in the room.
The upper half of the courtyard provides an elegant lounge for guests to relax, take a break and have a drink in a light and open space. This building is constructed using glulam columns around the perimeter with her roof formed from curved glulam rafters crossing in a grid work pattern to form a number of timber node points in the roof. These nodes provided focal points in the structure, in keeping with the gothic style of the existing building and provided the opportunity to hang elegant circular lights from.
The upper courtyard glulam beams were connected with concealed flitch plates and dowels or aluminium Sherpa connectors. All these connecting brackets were infilled with matching timber strips or plugs to provide a clean and seamless look. Finally, the timber was painted in a white pigmented stain to complement the decor of the room.
There were however challenges to overcome during the construction of the courtyard. As the courtyard is landlocked in the centre of the hotel, any works would be hugely disruptive the day to day running on the hotel. It was therefore decided to close the hotel for 5 months while construction could take place. Accessing the central courtyard was also a challenge and the large glulam curves could not be transported through the building. Therefore, a large crane was brought into the site and all materials were lifting with the crane blind over the hotel and into position. This process required specialist lifting operations so as not to damage the listed building.
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