The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool, Merseyside, England (circa 1967)
Following decades of false starts and scrapped designs, an international design competition was held in 1959 for the design of a Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool. The design had to incorporate Edwin Lutyens’ crypt (part of an earlier, scrapped design) and accommodate a congregation of 2,000 whilst allowing them to be more involved in services.
Sir Frederick Gibberd won with a circular design with a central altar. Construction began in October 1962 and it was consecrated in May 1967. Conical in shape, with a truncated cone on top, it is predominantly supported by 16 concrete trusses connected by two ring beams. Above the upper ring beam is the lantern tower, adorned with stained glass windows and a crown of 16 pinnacles. Above the entrance is a wedge-shaped bell tower.
Many of the construction techniques used were innovative and experimental, however some also failed. Gibberd was sued by the cathedral for £1.3 million on 5 counts, including leaks in the aluminium roof and defects in the mosaic tiles on the concrete ribs, which were eventually completely removed in the 1990s. Today, the cathedral’s modern design divides opinion and is a Grade II* listed building.