A CHURCH FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
The congregation of the parish church of Christ Church in Downend, Bristol, wanted to see their place of worship used for performances and other activities, and become a centre for the community. The problem was the church was a poorly lit and run-down Victorian building with little flexibility about how its spaces could be used. It needed a complete revamp – but without losing its soul and its role as the heart of the parish community.
Pairing traditional building methods with modern materials, Hart’s team turned Christ Church into a stunning flexible space with dramatic new lighting, a beautiful stone floor and removable seats.
First the interior was stripped out entirely, removing pews and floors and ancient heating systems, and taken back to its shell. Then the windows were restored and the broken lead work repaired, the roof fixed, stonework restored, and the fabric of the building reinsulated. New electrics and plumbing were fitted. We even brought a specialist team of skyscraper climbers from London and commissioned them to scale the bell tower to replace the bell pull.
Walls and ceiling were repainted in fresh, uplifting colours and a state of the art audio-visual system fitted. The floor was levelled to enable full wheelchair access throughout the building, and a new breathable floor installed, using lime rather than cement, with underfloor heating supported by reactive radiator heating. Bespoke multi-functional oak screens were fitted within existing arches to act as partitions that create different spaces and are attractive features in their own right. Overhead halo-style lights provided a statement focal point.
The church has been utterly transformed. A dark, chilly and hard to use interior is now a light, open and welcoming space. Meanwhile the church’s extension has been revamped, reconfigured and heavily insulated, and fitted with steel framed Crittall windows which allow better natural lighting. It provides offices, function rooms and prayer spaces.
In addition to our building work, we also helped the team raise the funds needed to complete the project. At the start of the project only half the budget was in place. During the building work, we helped organise open days and created monthly photographic reports to highlight the transformation taking place and drive fundraising. By the end of the project the remaining funds were in place.