Nicholas Kirk Architects has brought life back to a derelict church building in Woolwich for the Lithuanian Christian Church in London. (LKBL)
The original chapel was built in 1961 to designs by Walters & Kerr Bate to serve the local community working for Siemens and other local factories. The considerable Mass attendance during the first few years fell in the early 1970s when many factories closed and people moved away.
The church became vacant in early 2010 and soon fell into disrepair. The LKBL acquired the church in 2013 and appointed Nicholas Kirk Architects to restore the original church building.
The original building comprised a main church hall facing Woolwich Road with stepped access from the street and a secondary church hall to the rear.
The upgrade includes the provision of additional office space, a new nursery and a large new mezzanine in the main church hall. A state of the art AV system has been installed to allow for large scale musical ensembles and language translation throughout the building.
The building comprises a main church hall with a secondary congration space at the rear. These spaces required extensive structural imporvements and restoration of the external fabric to return it back to its former glory. The conversion of the rear hall to a nursery allows for commercial activities and provides a break out space for children during the weekend services.
Alongside upgrades to the building fabric, the church required state of the art audio and visual facilities and provide space for congregations of +200 people in the main church hall.
The brief required Nicholas Kirk Architects to find ways that would allow for additional revenue streams to help generate additional income for the church. New office accommodation for the day to day running of the building was also an essential part of the requirement.
Our approach was to deliver a sequence of spaces that would allow for increased numbers to the church and create a warm inviting place that would become a beating heart for the Lithuanian Church Community.
We carefully assessed the requirements of the users and engaged closely with the Pastor to develop a spatial programme that would allow for additional numbers and different user groups. Furthermore, we set out a detailed framework that would allow for the services and AV strategy to be integrated into the design and building improvements.
The refurbishment of the church provides a beacon for the Lithuanian Community and ensures it is an accessible and inviting place to visit. The accommodation is split into 3 separate elements:
- The main church refurbishment,
- New nursery facillities
- New office accommodation annexed to the main building.
A new glazed entrance to the side of the building allows for multiple activities to take place and provides orientation for visitors when they arrive to the building. Often, services are upbeat affairs, with live music, singing and worship performed alongside quiet activities taking place elsewhere in the building. The new entrance and building upgrades allows for the separation of these activities, whilst a new ramped access, starting from the street provides a level approach throughout the ground floor.
The conversion of the rear hall to a nursery allows for commercial activities and provides a break out space for children during the weekend services. A new mezzanine extension in the main church allows for increased numbers to attend congregations and provides balcony seating for staged performances at the front the hall.
The procurement was let on a design and build basis, with Nicholas Kirk Architects providing concept design, planning, construction information to the Pastor and his team of builders (the contractor was thePastor’s Brother in Law). NKA also provided support during the construction stages, liaising with the other consultants and providing additional details as required by the contractor as the project progressed on site.
The building is about to move into its second phase for additional office accommodation and new recording facilities created for the building. Planning permission has been granted for new extensions to house these activities at the rear of the building and will ensure a range of community uses for the building for many years to come.