St Mary’s Churchroom

A  Grade 1 listed church dating back in part to 1190, St Mary’s sits in a prominent position overlooking the village green in Chiddingfold, Surrey. Although it had been considerably altered and extended over the past 800 years, the church lacked any spaces appropriate for more modern church activities, and children’s/youth groups in particular. An application for an extension was refused at public enquiry in 1985.

 

Jim Garland Architects was appointed in 2004 to explore whether an alternative solution might be feasible. Our response was to make a landscape element that inverted the existing ground levels to form a curved planar grassy mound, thereby leaving a simple volume below which would accommodate the new room. Achieving planning permission was far from straightforward, particularly as a 200 year old yew tree would be felled.

 

The turf roof and lack of vehicular site access suggested a reinforced concrete structure, and a piled raft foundation was used to overcome the problem of made up soil and a culverted stream running directly under the new room. The use of a concrete acid stain to match the proposed corten railings was considered, however this was changed to a concrete with GGBS aggregate which gave a colour very close to that of the existing headstones, and the railings changed to stainless steel.

 

Internally the room is expressed as a simple volume under a curved roof, however it can be subdivided to provide a range of room sizes, all of which we understand to be extremely well used.

 

Winner of the RIBA Ibstock Downland Prize for 2011 - Religious Category

 

“Assessors considered the new Church Room to be a discrete and elegant solution to the problem of how to add to a mature and protected Church setting. Where the design is visible externally it has been addressed with restraint and contemporary detailing. The etched glass screen which forms the principle elevation and the balustrade above it is befitting to the setting and the use of the building. This is very successful and lifts the building out of the ordinary, making it a suitable backdrop for special events such as christenings or wedding receptions.”