Church Architecture Awards 2017

Published: Thursday, October 26, 2017


The winners of the 2017 Church Architecture Awards have been announced.

A dramatic new church hall for a Grade I listed Oxfordshire church, a bold new entrance with neon lighting for a church in Soho and a church which has been brought back from the dead in Leeds have been announced as the winners of the 2017 Church Architecture Awards at an awards ceremony held at St Mellitus College in London on Thursday 26 October 2017.

The Church Architecture Awards are run by the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association (EASA) and the National Churches Trust.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said:

“I’m delighted at the quality and range of the projects which have won the 2017 Church Architecture Awards. 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.”

The Presidents’ Award – new church buildings category

The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO ARIBA presented the award for the winner of the Presidents’ Award for new church architecture: St John the Baptist, Burford, Oxfordshire and Acanthus Clews Architects for a new church hall.

St John the Baptist church undertook a dramatic redevelopment project to unite the church and local community through the building of a new church hall. The brief for the architects Acanthus Clews was to extend and adapt the listed but dilapidated church hall to provide a new flexible space for worship and capable of hosting a varied programme of community activities.

Two projects were Highly Commended by the judges.

The Belarusian Memorial Chapel, Woodside Park, London - Spheron Architects

The Belarusian Memorial Chapel is the first wooden church built in London since the Great Fire of 1666. Designed by Spheron Architects, the chapel in Woodside Park has been built for the Belarusian diaspora community in the UK, and is dedicated to the memory of victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Donhead School Chapel, Wimbledon, London - Phillips Tracey Architects

Phillips Tracey Architects updated and extended Donhead Preparatory School in Wimbledon to incorporate four new classrooms, an auditorium, a double height art room and a 50 seat chapel. The Chapel is the centrepiece of the new work. The main south façade is enriched by the new extension and hints at the schools Jesuit identity. 

The Presidents’ Award – reordering, extension or alteration to church buildings category.

The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO ARIBA presented the award to the winner of the Presidents’ Award for reordering, extensions or alteration to church buildings category:  St Anne, Soho, London and Upchurch Associates, including students at Central St Martins Sherief Al Rifa'i & Lina Viluma, for a new entrance and foyer.

The design by Shereif Al Rifa'i and Lina Viluma replaced the iron gates with sleek glass doors, over which the name of the church is written in bold neon lighting.  The doors bear 'push plates' in cold cast aluminium embossed with hand prints cast from members of the community.  The look is bright, clean and modern, accessible and inviting.

Rev'd Simon Buckley, Rector of St Anne's Soho, said: "I am absolutely delighted that this relatively small scheme has had such a big impact, not just on the awards panel, but on the people who repeatedly stop me outside St Anne's now  to say they never noticed there was a church here before. Many of them also now come in.  I'm thrilled that the National Churches Trust and the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association have given us this award."

One scheme was Highly Commended by the judges: Emmanuel Church, West Hampstead, London - Creation of new community space – Donald Insall Associates.

Emmanuel Church in West Hampstead, London, is an Edwardian Gothic Revival church designed by the architect J.A. Thomas, built in 1897. Architects Donald Insall Associates have improved the church’s ongoing viability by repairing the structural stability of the floor, creating four new community rooms and greatly improved facilities and access.

The King of Prussia Gold Medal for church conservation or repair work

Prince Nicholas von Preussen presented the award to the winner of the King of Prussia Gold Medal for church repair and conservation architecture: St Mark, Leeds, Yorkshire - Interior restoration and fabric repairs - Richard Crooks Partnership.

St Mark's Church is the last to survive of the three Church Commissioner’s churches built in Leeds. After many years with dwindling numbers of loyal but aging regular worshippers, it was declared redundant in 2001. The church had been on both the English Heritage and Leeds City Council’s Buildings at Risk Registers since early 1990s. 

This previously redundant  church, on both the local and national 'Heritage At Risk' registers, was brought back into use for worship  by Leeds 'Gateway', a modern church community of which 75% are students. Overcoming legal and funding issues, the community purchased St Marks in 2010, and since then with their project team, has achieved gradual, comprehensive conservation of this large building through a phased programme of work - the most recent of which was carried out in 2016. 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.”

One scheme was Highly Commended: All Saints, Nunney, Somerset - Replacement of historic waggon roof - Benjamin + Beauchamp Architects.

The nave roof of All Saints church has been subject to much alterations over the centuries but by the end of the C19 the medieval roof was known to be in very poor condition. Eventually as a consequence of severe decay, a decision was made in 1958 to install a replacement roof. The new roof was a steel framed agricultural truss covered in bitumous felt and was installed as a temporary measure.  In 1967 the unsightly steel frame was hidden behind a suspended ceiling, whilst in 1973 the failing bitumous felt was removed and replaced with concrete slates.   

Young Church Architect or Surveyor of the Year.

The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO ARIBA presented the award for the Young church architect or surveyor of the year  to Tszwai So.

The award recognises the contribution being made to church buildings by architects in the early stages of their career.  It is given to young architect who has worked on a winning or shortlisted design entered for The King of Prussia Gold Medal or the Presidents’ Award. It was first awarded in 2016.

The judges said: “Tszwai So project architect and director of the architects' practice Spheron, was responsible for the architectural design and for leading the selection of craftspeople  for the Belarusian Memorial Chapel. The design of the memorial chapel has been finely honed through the collaborative process between architect and craftspeople. Prior to the starting design, Tszwai spent a year researching into traditional Belarusian churches.  The judges commend the architect for his commitment to this unusual project and his leading role in the design and making of a delightful building.”