Designing a small extension for a country church proved a significant first for Anna Dulnikowska-Przystalska.
“I found it really engaging. It was something very different from anything I had done before,” recalls Anna who runs her own architectural practice, MarbleAir, in Oxford, a member of the National Churches Trust's Professional Trades Directory
She continues: “It was the first project that allowed me to interpret an historical architectural feature and propose a concept that was agreed by all: the client, the diocese and the local authority.”
Specialising in architectural regeneration
The experience influenced Anna’s decision to specialise in architectural regeneration during the second part of her training at Oxford Brooks University.
Anna’s extension at the Grade II* listed St Agatha’s, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Oxfordshire, was composed around a twelfth century doorway that links it with the main body of the church. It provides a good size meeting room, kitchenette, and a lobby leading to the church and two toilets.
After gaining her first qualification in architecture in Poland, she moved to where she worked first for a large architectural practice, then moved to a smaller company run by a Riba chartered conservation architect. It was here she took on the assignment at St Agatha’s.
Design for churches
She completed her studies at Westminster University and in 2017 launched her own business. At MarbleAir, she has continued to design for churches as well as private houses and commercial premises.
The company offers interior design, architectural services and project management throughout the UK. Anna has fellow architects she can call on on to assist with projects and can also recommend a fundraiser.
The regeneration of historic buildings remains a particular passion.
“When you work on a building dating from medieval times you see the additions and amalgamations that have been made over the years. You are working with a bit of history and you are adding your history on top of that,” she says.
Award winning project
Anna begins a new assignment by looking at the budget. She then listens carefully to understand what the client wants to achieve and says she is never fazed by their vision.
Her Oxfordshire assignments include St John the Baptist, Stadhampton, where she created a “vibrant, beautiful, flexible space” with kitchen and toilets. A broad range of activities now take place that contribute to the church’s maintenance. In 2016, the project won a plaque from the Oxford Preservation Trust Awards in the category of Small Projects.
At St Peter’s, Stoke Lyne, near Bicester, a Norman church in the centre of the village, it took 10 years to raise funds for a re-ordering programme. The £100,000 contract involved converting the Lady Chapel into a meeting room, erecting a glass screen to separate the transept from the nave, new lighting, internal decoration and a new floor. The project was finally completed in 2019 and opened by the Bishop of Dorchester.
Demand post COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a pause in church renovation though Anna is confident that the work will resume. She thinks there will be demand for creating even more space and one-way flow through buildings.
“People will have the possibility of another pandemic at the back of their minds. It will be a strong memory for many years to come,” she says.
Profile by Elena Curti.
|Areas of coverage||United Kingdom|
|Contact name||Anna Dulnikowska Przystalska|