Presidents' Award 2017 - New Church Buildings - Shortlist


Two shortlists have been announced for the 2017 Presidents' Award for new church architecture, run by the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association and the National Churches Trust. 

Four entries have been shortisted for the new church buildings category. (The shortlist of three entries for reordering, extensions or alterations to existing church buildings can be seen here.)

  • The Belarusian Memorial Chapel, Woodside Park, London - Spheron Architects
  • Crossway URC Church, Elephant and Castle, London - Van Heyningen & Haward Architects
  • Donhead School Chapel, Wimbledon, London - Phillips Tracey Architects
  • St John the Baptist, Burford, Oxfordshire (new church hall) - Acanthus Clews

Photographs and more details can be found below.

The Presidents' Award will be awarded to the winning scheme in each of the two categories.

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

“I’m delighted at the quality and range of the projects entered for the 2017 Church Architecture Awards which show clearly how church architecture makes a major contribution to the visual landscape of villages, towns and cities. This year our shortlist includes stunning modern buildings, highly creative solutions to repair and conservation work, and projects which reinterpret and bring back to life existing churches.  Our judges really are spoilt for choice and I look forward to the winners being announced on 26 October 2017.” 

Awards ceremony

The architects and the schemes judged to be the winners in each of the two categories will be announced by HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO ARIBA at an awards ceremony at St Mellitus College, London SW5 on Thursday Thursday 26 October 2017. Also at the Awards Ceremony, Prince Nicholas von Preussen will announce the 2017 winner of the King of Prussia Gold Medal for church repair and conservation architecture.

The Presidents’ Award is awarded on behalf of the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association President and the National Churches Trust’s Joint Presidents, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Projects are eligible if they have been completed within the last three years or after the Practical Completion stage in their development. New church buildings and new designs in church re-ordering, alterations or extensions are eligible for The Presidents’ Award. The award is open to church buildings of all Christian denominations in the UK.

The award comprises a chalice and paten, commissioned by the Incorporated Church Building Society, and made after World War II, originally to be loaned to a new or seriously war damaged church. This year, the chalice and paten will be lent to the two winning parishes to be held by them for six months each.  The two winning churches will each receive a £500 prize.

2017 judging

In selecting the winning entries, judges will be considering the following criteria.

•    Innovation, invention and originality
•    Fitness for use as a church, or part of a church building, in the 21st century
•    Does the work have the potential to bring new life to the church?
•    Architectural quality
•    Sensitivity to context
•    Elegance of construction and detail

Judges are also asked to consider to what extent the design is environmentally responsible.

Judges for the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association

Prince Nicholas von Preussen, Patron EASA; Russell Trudgen, President, EASA; Roger Molyneux,Vice President EASA;  Anna Joynt, EASA Awards officer; Mark Pearce, EASA Secretary. 

Judges for the National Churches Trust

HRH The Duke of Gloucester, KG GCVO ARIBA; Vice Patron, Luke March, DL Chairman; Richard Carr-Archer, Trustee; Eddie Tulasiewicz, Head of Communications.

The 2017 shortlisted entries are listed below in alphabetical order.

Belarusian Memorial Chapel, Woodside Park, London

Architect - Spheron Architects

Principle Contractor and other professional team members involved Principle Contractor: Timberwright Ltd, Services Engineer: Arup, Wood Supplier: East Bros Timber Ltd

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.

The chapel sits surrounded by 17 statutorily protected trees in the grounds of Marian House, a community and cultural centre for the UK Belarusian community in north London. Its design offers a mixture of traditional and contemporary elements and, like many rural churches in Belarus, the chapel will offer a gentle presence among the trees of its garden setting.

Extensive research into the Belarus’s wooden church tradition was taken by project architect Tszwai So, spending time in Belarus, recording and sketching traditional churches in the villages populating the rural areas to gain insight and inspiration for the design. The domed spire and timber shingle roof are common features of traditional churches in Belarus and offer familiarity, comfort and memories to London's Belarusian community, many of whom moved to the UK following the Chernobyl disaster.

Spheron Architects have introduced a series of contemporary twists to the basic traditional form, such as the undulating timber frill of the flank walls which enlivens the exterior. Natural light enters through low level concealed clerestory windows running the length of the chapel, and through tall frosted windows on the front elevation. At night, soft light from within allows the chapel to gently glow, referencing the WWII atrocities of torching wooden churches full of Belarusians trapped inside.

Inside the chapel will be decorated with a series of historic icons set into a timber screen separating the nave from the altar area in the apse.

For the first time in almost 70 years, the Belarusian diaspora community in London has its own dedicated space for worship. It is also the first purpose built Catholic church of Byzantine rite in London, previously the Catholics of Byzantine rite were worshipping in adapted or rented spaces previously.

  • Belarusian Memorial Chapel - Evening view of the chapel (c) Joakim Boren

  • Belarusian Memorial Chapel - View of internal entrance and bell tower (c) Joakim Boren

  • Belarusian Memorial Chapel - Exterior side ‘timber frill’ detailing (c) Helene Binet

  • Belarusian Memorial Chapel - Front on view of the altar (c) Helene Binet

Crossway URC Church, Elephant and Castle, London

Architect - Van Heyningen & Haward Architects
Principle Contractor and other professional team members involved:
Contractor: Osborne. Structural: Parmarbrook. M&E: Promode. PM/QS: Mott MacDonald. CDM: TGA.

The project to replace Crossway Church was triggered by the redevelopment of the Heygate Estate. Southwark Council decided it was also necessary to demolish the Church and so the Council and the URC agreed to replace the building on a small plot just to the south of Strata, a 43 storey residential high rise, and sandwiched between a large housing block and a railway viaduct, with access only possible from the southern end.

This challenging site, combined with the desired multi functional use and flexible spaces, presented the architecs with a rather complex brief, which they responded to with a clear set of solutions. The briefing and design development process was led by vHH, working closely with the Minister and involving the other congregations, making sure that the design was satisfactory for the perspective of the URC.

The building has the main worship area to the north, with a clear linear route from the entrance giving access to all the facilities at both levels. The church office at reception provides and immediate welcome and supervises the entrance and the two stairs allow the building to be zoned for different uses throughout the day.

Generous circulation allows people to gather inside the building before worship or other events. Upstairs, the secondary worship area can be split into two rooms, and there are several other meeting rooms. All spaces have good daylight and excellent acoustics. The intention is that these will provide accessible and useful space which can be used by a wide variety of community groups to benefit local people.

The building elevations combine textured brick and copper detailing to provide a strong but accessible character, making it stand out as a Christian community centre within its local context. The entrance façade incorporates a large cross within its design, and the
crosses formed in the textured brickwork are visible from the Elephant and Castle roundabout and from the railway.

The priority for the Minister was creating the building to serve many congregations and community groups, with a high degree of flexibility, generous circulation and social areas. These are supplemented by a well equipped kitchen & WCs/showers that could support the Church’s rough sleeper project.

  • Crossway Church (c) Carlo Draisci

  • Crossway Church External (c) Carlo Draisci

  • Crossway Church Main Worship Area (c) Carlo Draisci

  • Crossway Church Recessed Brick Detail (c) Carlo Draisci

Donhead School Chapel, Wimbledon, London

Architect - Phillips Tracey Architects

Principle Contractor and other professional team members involved:
Morgan Tucker, Castle Hayes Pursey, Goddard Consulting, Multistage International, Environmental Design Associates, Sandy Brown.

Phillips Tracey Architects have 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 with capacity for 50 people, it enables the school to hold mass services, prayer services and the daily examen for individual classes at the end of the school day. The main south façade is enriched by the new extension and hints at the school's Jesuit identity, with the gabled façade of the new chapel continuing the informal gabled elevation of the existing school.

Inside the chapel, a roof lantern sits above the altar, within the exposed timber roof cassettes, which express the buildings construction. A stained glass window forms a focal point to the room and sensitively juxtaposes old with new. Externally, the lantern continues the rhythm of chimneys seen on the original building.

A limited palette of materials has been used, to reflect the simplicity of the overall design concept and blend with the existing buildings. Staff and pupils were actively involved in the design process and a number of workshops were undertaken with the children to help develop the design of the stained glass window to the chapel. Bespoke seating was also designed and commissioned for the chapel.

As lead architect, Brendan Tracey’s particular interest in sustainable architecture has resulted in a project that will serve many generations to come with the new extension exceeding the elemental thermal requirements of current Building Regulations.

Now Donhead School has its own chapel, the Headmaster and pupils at the school consider it to be “complete”

  • Donhead School Chapel - exterior

  • Donhead School Chapel - interior

  • Donhead School Chapel - interior

  • Donhead School Chapel - interior

St John the Baptist, Burford, Oxfordshire

Architect - Acanthus Clews

Principle Contractor and other professional team members involved:
Main Contractor Bryan Doyle, Edgar Taylor Ltd. Structural Engineer James Schofield, Price & Myers. QS David Roche, Baqus.

St John the Baptist Church in Burford undertook a bold redevelopment project at Warwick Hall to unite the church and local community through the building of a new church community facility. The brief was to extend and adapt the listed but dilapidated church hall to provide a new flexible space capable of hosting a varied programme of community activities including a day centre for the elderly, as well being an alternative space for worship and prayer.

A key objective was to deliver a place within the town for the church and the community to come together which is epitomised by the new community café in the heart of the new building. The challenge was to deliver a new confident church community facility within one of the most historically sensitive and restricted church settings nationally.

The design ethos was therefore to reaffirm the historical significance of the original building range by removing later rear extensions in order to rebuild in a manner that responded more sensitively to this unique setting. To minimise the impact on the churchyard the massing is split into a cluster of smaller structures expressed and clearly separated from the original Hall. These stone elements are expressed and protrude sensitively from behind the churchyard wall but are set back to allow the Warwick Hall gable and churchyard wall to dominate the boundary edge. A clearer hierarchy of old and new is generated.

Fundamental to the building's internal organization was relocating the main entrance access to the churchyard. This allows visitors to enter into the heart of the building and provides both level access and allows the old hall to return to its original proportions unhindered by lobbies, partitions or ramps. By reorientating the new building towards the churchyard a new dialogue between the church and the community centre is created.

The use of local limestone was fundamental to grounding the building within its historic context, and subtle variations in stone finish ensure the building connects immediately to its setting. Other contemporary materials that reflect the buildings inclusivity as a public facility can then be accommodated. Zinc cladding and structural glazing are detailed in a crisp contemporary way that contrasts the texture and grain of the predominant stone.

Almost half of the building's energy demand is met through renewable sources from a ground source heat pump heating and cooling system that crucially reduces operating costs for future generations.

Described by the Bishop of Dorchester as this generations ‘gift’ to Burford, the project builds on centuries of collaboration between the church and the local community.

St John the Baptist Church in Burford had a ‘big bold and scary’ vision to undertake a very significant building project in order to deliver on their core church mission to make their church ‘the heart of the church’s ministry and the heart of community life’. Having spent over a decade planning the project it is now complete, in use and thriving. The building has been a huge success and dramatically exceeded their aspirations. The huge range of community activities and the flexibility of worship spaces have allowed the church to explore a different programme of events helping it to grow the congregation and consolidate it across all demographics.

  • View from within the Garden

  • Internal view of new hall

  • Internal view of church at junction between new and old Warwick Hall

  • External view from the church