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Winners of Church Architecture Awards unveiled

03 November 2017

National Churches Trust

Reflecting the times: a night view of the new church hall of St John the Baptist, Burford, which won the President’s Award in the category for new buildings

Reflecting the times: a night view of the new church hall of St John the Baptist, Burford, which won the President’s Award in the category for new bui...

A DRAMATIC new church hall for a Grade I listed parish church in Burford, Oxfordshire; the neon-lit entrance hall of St Anne’s, Soho, in London; and the restoration and resurrection of St Mark’s, Leeds, Yorkshire, were among the winners of the 2017 Church Architecture Awards.

The Church Architecture Awards are run by the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association (EASA), and the National Churches Trust (NCT). The awards were presented by the Duke of Gloucester at St Mellitus College, in London, on Thursday of last week.

St John the Baptist, Burford, and Acanthus Clews Architects won the Presidents’ Award in the category new church buildings for its new renewable-sourced church hall, which was designed as a flexible space for the use of both the congregation and the community.

The judges commented: “The plan is deceptively simple, but carefully designed so that worship and support spaces can be subdivided or used together to accommodate different activities all under one roof. The qualities of light and material within the hall and café make these attractive spaces which clearly appeal not only to the regular churchgoers, but to local people and visitors. This was a complex project very well resolved.”

St Anne’s, Soho, was awarded the Presidents’ Award in the category for reordering, extensions, or alteration. The church was consecrated in 1686, largely destroyed in the Blitz in 1940, and rebuilt as a multi-purpose chapel and community hall in 1991. A shortage of funds at the time meant that its main entrance, on Dean Street, was “simply furnished with heavy iron gates leading to a dark featureless corridor” — an impression that the present Rector, the Revd Simon Buckley, sought to change in 2014.

National Churches TrustWinner: the new entrance of St Anne’s, Soho

The design of Upchurch Associates, including students at Central St Martins — Sherief Al Rifa’i and Lina Viluma — replaced the iron gates with sleek glass doors framing the name of the church in  neon lighting. The judges said: “The design has a strong idea but has also been carefully refined, employing subtle geometries in the ceiling and joinery.”

National Churches TrustWinning design: a young churchgoer tries out the new hand-moulded push-plates on the glass doors of St Anne’s, Soho

The King of Prussia Gold Medal for church conservation or repair-work projects was presented to St Mark’s, Leeds, by Prince Nicholas von Preussen. The church was declared redundant in 2001 having been placed on both the English Heritage and Leeds City Council’s Buildings at Risk registers since the early 1990s. The building was identified as a suitable place of worship for Gateway Community Church — 75 per cent of whom are students — in 2005. Since it was bought by the church, in 2010, it has undergone a complete restoration with Richard Crooks Partnership.

“The sheer ambition of this whole project, as well as the quality of the work, is inspiring,” the judges concluded. “It is impressive, and unusual, that this young church community chose to rescue a beautiful, badly neglected, historic church, with all the complexity and risk that such a project entails. The result is a testament to the courage and ambition of this community and their team.”

The Young Church Architect of the Year award was presented to Tszwai So of Spheron Architects, who were responsible for designing the Belarusian Memorial Chapel, Woodside Park, in London, built for the Belarusian diaspora community in the UK, and which was highly commended in the new buildings category.

The chief executive of the NCT, Claire Walker, said that she was “delighted at the quality and range” of the prizewinning projects. “They show clearly that church architecture continues to make a major contribution to the visual landscape of villages, towns, and cities. Our judges really were spoilt for choice — congratulations to the churches and the architects concerned for their inspirational work.”

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