This folded interior facade by Christ & Gantenbein adds dynamic contrast.
LONDON (UK) - In 1775, thirteen years after the foundation of the Swiss Church in London, the first Swiss Chapel was constructed in Stidwell Street, Soho. Years later the chapel was built anew in Edell Street, and has remained at that location ever since. Having survived a fire in 1930 and suffered a partial ceiling collapse following the bombings of the Second World War, the building gained listed status in 1973 and has since been subject to various renovation studies and subsequent refurbishments. In 2001, Herzog & de Meuron made transformation suggestions, but in 2006 architects Christ & Gantenbein were requested to formulate an updated feasibility study. The 2.6 million euro project – privately funded by donations and fundraising – has recently been opened to the public. The Swiss Church now enjoys expanded interior space and refreshing lightness, thanks to these thoughtful interventions. (Dutton R. Hauhart)
Following one year of construction and three years of planning, the renovation and transformation of the Swiss Church in London has been successfully completed. The Grade II-listed sacred building in Covent Garden, built in 1855 by the architect George Vulliamy, required urgent renovation and transformation, as well as spatial changes to adapt the church building to current needs of the congregation.
The project mainly consists of restoring the big hall by removing the extended gallery from the 1950s and adding new floors at the street end of the church. With this intervention, the big hall recovers its original elegant proportions, whilst keeping the classical facade. The newly provided spaces for offices, the parish working area, as well as the organ gallery, are a striking architectural intervention. Like 'a house within a house' the floors that are stacked on top of each other above the entrance complement the building with an additional 90 m2 of new space overlooking the church hall. Thanks to the independent use of these areas, it will be easily possible to rent both for public purposes.
The rhythm of the arches of the barrel vault is reinterpreted by the new structure, which introduces a folded internal facade to the main hall, giving an irregular suite of slanted surfaces in clear contrast to the existing mid-19th-century interior design. Like a folding screen, a framework construction with mirroring, translucent glass isolates the new spaces from the nave. Artistically, this provokes a subtle play of reflections, see-throughs and sharp shadows, thus expanding the original proportions of the church space thanks to the mirroring effect of the glass. The other materials also contribute to this evanescent white atmosphere: the concrete is treated with a white emulsion and the oak framework and oak flooring are stained white.
Monday | 9 August | 2010 | United Kingdom | Christ & Gantenbein