New Lease of Life Given to Church Hall
When any building is considered no longer fit for purpose, responsive discourse is required to decide: conserve, renovate or replace. When that building is a dilapidated 1939 church hall much loved by all sectors of a close knit community, the stakes are raised.
Here at Harrison Pitt Architects we hold forty years’ design and consultancy experience in conservation and innovative projects provided exactly the expertise and solutions which the residents of the picturesque North Lancashire village of Slyne with Hest required.
The new design had to be sympathetic to the adjacent Victorian Grade II listed St Luke’s church, designed by acclaimed Architects Paley and Austin. Other heritage area planning considerations included the impact on neighbouring properties, access, environment, protected tree species, and even a survey of the local bat population.
Our director, Zoe Hooton and architect Hayley Dufton designed a ‘modern arts and crafts’ scheme. Rather than replicate the adjacent church, their design aims for “sensitive complementary visual differentiation”; marrying the heritage asset with the modern addition.
Practical usage was key, as Zoe explains; “The hall has to be inviting and flexible to support community activities, from ‘café church’ gatherings to table tennis leagues. Sadly, many groups had reluctantly relocated from the old hall due to draughts, discomfort, safety concerns, and lack of access. It was no longer the hub of the village.”
Designing in flexibility, the large bi-folding glass doors allow family viewing and integration between the large main hall and new café. This is now supported by commercial standard kitchen facilities, while parish staff and helpers gain more office and vital storage space throughout the build. Having the foresight to raise the roof by just a few centimetres introduces a game-changing mezzanine gallery area for exhibitions, meetings, workshops and integrated viewing and participation with the hall below.
The church hall design cleverly responds to community and environmental considerations; and the approach is apparent as you immediately enter the building. The welcoming accessible entrance is brought to life internally with Innovative contrasting colours will help those with dementia navigate the building. Sustainability measures include solar panels to generate power, top grade insulation, and rooflights to minimise artificial lighting.
Zoe concludes; “We are passionate about working with others to promote good design and create great buildings. Now work has started onsite it’s wonderful to harness sensitive modern techniques to revitalise the heart of this brilliant community on our doorstep.”