A unique role for a civil engineer to help conserve the historic structure.
Claudio Corallo, an ICE member and conservation expert, has joined the Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission (WAFC).
The WAFC’s role is to advise on the abbey’s structural integrity and to ensure that it remains a safe and secure destination for people to visit.
"There is only one seat in the commission for a civil engineer," said Corallo.
"I am honoured to follow in the footsteps of the very few who have held this post in the 30 years’ history of the commission, including Professor Jacques Heyman, Brian Morton, and Ian Hume, so I have very big shoes to fill!"
Corallo takes over the commission role from Professor Jacques Heyman, a leading figure in church architecture and restoration.
Professor Heyman attended the University of Cambridge at 16, before heading the university's engineering department in 1983.
Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission role
As a structural conservation engineer, Corallo's role will involve assessing proposals for the abbey.
He will do this by working with fellow panellists to look at the technical merit of a proposal and determine whether the proposal has been properly investigated.
They will then evaluate whether alternative options have been explored before giving approval.
Before working as a divisional director at Clancy Consulting, Corallo worked as a principal engineer at Conisbee.
He has worked on projects that have been shortlisted, commended, and won Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) RICS, Architect's Journal (AJ), and Civic Trust AABC Conservation awards.
"Throughout my career I have led very successful structural conservation projects," said Corallo.
"Ranging from small buildings in conservation area, Grade I and II Listed buildings and churches, up to cathedrals, scheduled ancient monuments, castles, and even UNESCO World Heritage Sites."
Westminster Abbey experience
Corallo has a long history working with Westminster Abbey.
Spanning over 15 years, Corallo first worked with the abbey when he helped on a preliminary assessment of the abbey’s structural capacity.
He then later collaborated on the Queen Diamond Jubilee Galleries project, which repurposed the previously unused East Triforiums into a museum space for the general public.
On all these projects Corallo worked closely with the surveyor to the Fabric and had the opportunity to demonstrate to the abbey his approach and passion for conservation.
This ultimately led to his name being put forward to join the WAFC panel.
"My hope is that my contribution will help generate improved technical proposals, and prompt an enhanced documentation of the decision-making process," Corallo said.
"So that future generations will be better placed not only to understand our solutions, but also to appreciate how we got to them, and understand what it was that we were trying to achieve."