900 Project - St. Mary's, Studley.
2011 / 2012
Construction of New South Wing; Porch & Toilet Block
To mark the 900th anniversary of the Church, this small but complex extension addresses the need to provide modern comforts within its ancient rural setting; housing permanent toilet accommodation and reception space.
The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Studley in Warwickshire dates from the early 12th century and is listed grade II*. Despite its isolated position, it remains the spiritual centre of Studley with a vibrant and active congregation. However, with no permanent toilet facilities and limited reception space it became increasingly difficult for the parish to provide the type of accommodation people now expect from a public building.
The extension is located on the site of the former south porch demolished in the late 19th century. A sensitive site; the challenge was to provide a building with the facilities required without detracting architecturally from the exterior of the church. Also, recognising the importance of the south door as the main point of entry to the church, where existing paths through the churchyard intersect and people gather before and after services.
Essentially the building is conceived of two elements, the porch and the toilet block. Key to the design is the ‘separation’ of the toilet facilities from the church with a light and transparent porch structure enclosing the south door. This provides a transitional space between inside and out, a visual separation between new and old and a place for people to congregate before and after services.
The cruciform plan, also allows the entrance to be rotated to run west to east, and is expressed by the projecting gables adorned with oak crosses. This also creates a more visible entrance to the church from the west gate and maintains views and a route to the garden of remembrance beyond.
The use of structural oak with its distinctive arched frames and glazing separating elements of the structure was important to create a sense of openness, transparency, light and accessibility. The oak is a seasoned ‘steady’ European oak, chosen instead of green oak to minimise movement particularly as the glazing is fixed directly to the frame. Joints are honestly expressed with steel flitch plates with exposed bolts.
Internally the timber structure is expressed with four arched frames forming a central crossing. These in turn are connected by substantial oak wallplates, purlins and ridge beams and connected to glazed arched end frames that complete the cruciform plan. The ceiling is European redwood boarding finished in a translucent grey stain contrasting with the warm hue of the oiled oak and ancient stone of the south door.
The porch contrasts with the stone used to build the toilet accommodation, which is subservient to the porch. The use of English larch cladding to the recessed eaves panelling is used to further break down the form and create depth and shadow. The oak and larch were given a clear oiled finish and will be left to weather down to a silvery grey.