The Presidents' Award - 2021 Shortlist


The shortlist has been announced for the 2021 Presidents' Award for new church architecture and re-orderings run by the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association and the National Churches Trust.

Projects shortlisted include a dramatic new streetside church in Monifieth, Scotland; the re-ordering of St Thomas, Salisbury's parish church; the creation of a new extension for Melbourne Methodist church in Derbyshire; a reordering focusing on sustainability at Downing URC church in Cambridge; a small, crafted intervention at Holy Trinity, Colden Common, which enables far greater use of the church;  and a reordering and extension of St Andrew, Donhead, creating a busy hub for the village community.

Six entries have been shortisted:

  • Downing Place United Reformed Church, Cambridge
  • Holy Trinity, Colden Common
  • Melbourne Methodist Church
  • Monifieth Parish Church
  • St Andrew, Donhead St Andrew
  • St Thomas, Salisbury

Photographs and details of the projects can be found below.

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 which is planned to be held at St Mary Magdalene Church, Paddington on Thursday 4 November October 2021. Also at the Awards Ceremony, Prince Nicholas von Preussen will announce the 2021 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. 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. The winning church will receive a £500 prize.

2021 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

• If 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.

The 2021 shortlisted entries are listed below.

Downing Place United Reformed Church, Cambridge

Downing Place, Cambridge, CB2 3EL

Architects - Archangel Architects

This re-ordering project in central Cambridge followed the uniting of two congregations to form Downing Place URC and the disposal of the second building. The buildings, previously known as St Columba's, date from 1891; they are not listed but are designated 'buildings of local interest' in the Council's Local Plan.

The buildings comprise three overlapping rectangles – the church and two halls – in the form of a zigzag. The church has been reordered, with more flexible seating and a new internal room for mid-sized meetings and the 'NightLite' drop-in safe space on Saturday nights. New openings have been inserted into the existing Downing Street frontage to allow views into the building from the street and the bus stops opposite, and to allow the life of the building to be evident to people outside. 

A new, more generous and well-lit entrance has been created, providing for the first time an inviting and accessible front door to the church. The central hall has been converted into a double-height community hub with café tables and a catering kitchen, with meeting rooms on two levels down one side. At the back of the site the existing Gibson Hall has been enlarged, and the existing courtyard garden reclaimed to create a hidden oasis in the centre of the city.Downing Place United Reformed Church, Cambridge

Holy Trinity, Colden Common

Main Road, Colden Common, Winchester, SO21 1TL

Architects - Connolly Wellingham Architects

Holy Trinity, Colden Common is a Grade II listed Church on the southern outskirts of Winchester, in an area known for its palaeolithic flint manufacture. The church, built in the 1840s, wraps finely knapped flint walls around a plain rectangular plan. The building is at once both modest and rich.

In 2018, Connolly Wellingham Architects were invited by the Parochial Church Council to reorder the church's west end, so as to better serve both community and congregation. The direct solution was to provide a WC and kitchenette as catalysts that might activate the reordered west end, and the wider church beyond. A complex context belied this simple strategy.

The newly reordered west end now responds to a range of occasions: this can be a place for baptism, creche groups, and bereaving family members all in a single day. New large scale cabinetry variously serves as quiet background, active frontage and finely crafted object.

Holy Trinity, Colden Common

Melbourne Methodist Church

Church Street, Melbourne, Derbyshire, DE73 8EJ

Architects - Faber Architects

Melbourne Methodist Church is a lively family friendly church that welcomes guests each week. It has been active in Melbourne for well over 200 years - and is a lively, vibrant church that takes its social responsibility seriously. Over the last 20 years the church has grown from a regular congregation of about 20 to over 80 - including a wonderful youth church.

The congregation needed a space that could provide the additional practical requirements as well as an open and inviting space for the local community. The project has provided a new annexe to the main church building providing new activity space, catering  and WC facilities, with accompanying landscaping designed to provide accessible access to the church from the street and an outdoor terrace. The space is commonly used for both formal meetings and gatherings as well as less formal bible study or baby groups.

Melbourne Methodist Church

Monifieth Parish Church

41 High Street, Monifieth, Angus, DD5 4AA

Architects - Lee Boyd Ltd.

Monifieth Parish Church is a union of three congregations whose existing churches were deemed unfit to serve the changing demands of the united congregation and society in general.

To realise a new home, a proposal for a bold modern church on the high street, at the heart of the local community, was agreed as the best way forward. The new building replaced an under-used suite of traditional halls associated with one of the original churches. The brief was to build a new church and provide a flexible worship space for up to 250 people, a main hall that could be divided into smaller meeting spaces, a generous foyer to welcome large numbers of people, and appropriate ancillary spaces.

The design developed with the sanctuary right on the street. A glazed 'shop window' gives direct visual access to the interior for passers-by and reinforces to those within their connection to everyday community life. This breaking down of the barriers between church and community is not new but is increasingly vital to ensure both the survival of church buildings and the sustainability of healthy congregations. The church combines a modest civic presence with a self confidence that ensures its presence as a new landmark in Monifieth.

Monifieth Parish Church

St Andrew, Donhead St Andrew

St Bartholomew Street, Donhead St Andrew, Dorset. SP7 9EB

Architects - Procter Watts Cole Rutter

St Andrew, is situated in the valley beside the river Nadder. There has been a church on this site serving as a centre for Christian worship for at least a thousand years and the present church is 13th century, though much altered in the 19th century and is built of the local green sandstone.

This project to re-order and provide a new extension is designed to make St Andrew's church a major centre of village life for all villagers, as a place of worship and the place where the community can gather for a wide variety of village activities in a building which is inspiring, welcoming, accessible and well-resourced.

In practical terms, the project involved: removing uneven, worn and high risk floor surfaces at differing levels which in the Nave were replaced with a stone floor on a single level throughout the Nave; replacing tightly-packed, uncomfortable, low-quality pews in poor condition with interlocking oak chairs designed for the modern human frame; creating a reading and study area with seating and bookcases to contain the church's growing collection of books on religion, philosophy, archaeology, heritage and local history and building an extension to contain a WC with disabled and baby-changing facilities, a kitchen, and a Parish Room/Vestry with separate entrance and with the luxury of hot water.

St Andrew, Donhead St Andrew

St Thomas church, Salisbury

St Thomas' Square, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 1BA

Architects - St Ann's Gate Architects

St Thomas is the parish church of Salisbury. The 15th century Grade I building, set back from the city streets has a lovely timber roof with demi figures of angels. The most notable feature is the 'doom' painting over the chancel arch showing the Last Judgement.

The project involved the conservation of the fabric of the building and the re-ordering of the nave and side aisles. The carefully conserved medieval Doom painting, located above the chancel arch, provides a dramatic backdrop for the main worship space, which itself has been re-ordered with a new nave sanctuary, and new seating in the nave and aisles. The entrance to the building via the west doors has been enhanced with the construction of a fully glazed entrance lobby, providing a light and airy welcome space. The new nave sanctuary features an altar of highly contemporary design – a beautifully crafted yet simple shape – as a foil to the Perpendicular medieval space.

St Thomas, Salisbury