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Architect attends historic first hearing

PUBLISHED: 09:00 09 October 2009 | UPDATED: 08:40 01 August 2010

AN architect from Maypole Green had a front row seat when the nation's law lords convened for the first ever case to be heard in the new UK supreme court on Monday.

AN architect from Maypole Green had a front row seat when the nation's law lords convened for the first ever case to be heard in the new UK supreme court on Monday.

Hugh Feilden, a partner of Feiden and Mawson, in Norwich, led the design team on one of the city's most prestigious building projects to transform the former Middlesex Guildhall on Parliament Square into a home for the highest court in the land.

Mr Feilden travelled to the court for the historic first hearing after investing five years of his professional life in the complex.

The project is a triumphant blend of traditional and modern, for which the company brought together a mix of the country's foremost artists, designers and craftsmen.

Sitting in on a finance of terrorism case being heard by seven law lords, Mr Feilden said it was fantastic to see all the carefully designed elements of the project working so well together.

“It was very interesting to see the court finally come to life and it was immensely satisfying to watch it functioning just as it should,” he said.

“The designs incorporated into the building represents a celebration of exuberance - exuberance of the original designers and the exuberance of modern-day artists and designers,” said Mr Feilden. “It celebrates the continuity of the ages.”

Around 15 team members, mostly based at the firm's London office, have worked on the building, which has involved some £35m in construction costs alone.

The gothic art nouveau grade 2 listed building with 6,000sqm of floor space now has three courts - two original historic chambers which have been beautifully renovated and a contemporarily-designed third with double height windows.

It also features a magnificent library, two five-storey lightwells and an exhibition area.

A Portland stone bench outside the building has been engraved with a specially-written poem by former poet laureate Andrew Motion. Meanwhile modern techniques have been used to create a facsimile of the Magna Carta on the glass security screen, which greets visitors as they step inside.

All of the buildings original ornate craftwork features have been incorporated into the building with the exception of some original court furniture, which was designed for a criminal court.

Meanwhile the carpeting has been designed by Peter Blake, who is best known for the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club album cover.

The Feilden + Mawson practice was founded more than 50 years ago by Mr Feilden's uncle.

Sadly Sir Bernard Feilden, died last year so was unable to see the project completed, but was happy the plans upheld the traditions of his practice which has worked on many prestigious projects and magnificent buildings.

“It has been a huge team effort and there is an enormous sense of pride in the finished project,” said Mr Feilden. “It ranks with the very best work F+M have achieved over the years.”

The new court marks the end of the law lords' age-old practice of hearing cases in the House of Lords and symbolically marks their independence from Parliament.

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