|Published on Sun, 10 Feb 2019 09:00|
More than 50 congregants, visitors and building professionals involved in the upcoming renovation of St John’s piled into the church on Sunday February 3rd for a Design Party exploring the Reignite2021 vision.
David Clarson, who runs the Design Committee, talked the audience through the overall project, while architects Christopher Burton and James McNeill of Eric Parry Architects were on hand to answer questions and explain specific designs. Tours of the church and crypt encouraged visitors and congregants to grasp the scale of the project and offer their own hopes and ideas.
Giles Goddard, vicar of St John’s said: “The purpose was to make sure everyone at St John’s understands the vision to reignite our building for the 21st century, creating a community and heritage hub that is fully connected to the wider community.”
The project, which started seven years ago, is finally taking off.
“We had a few setbacks on the way,” explained David Clarson. “But the next phase of the design is starting, we are nearly there with church permission and the fund-raising is going well. We’re still hopeful for the 2021 opening date."
There was an enthusiastic response from those who attended the event, with several congregants and church volunteers commenting on how the proposed new staircase down into the crypt will radically transform the space, properly linking the church and lower-ground floor.
Others praised the idea of a new, welcoming street entrance. “People will be able to see right the way through to the altar,” said Lindy Taylor. “This will encourage them to come into what they might otherwise see as a reserved space.”
Alice Mwanje said she was looking forward to the glass partition at the back of church. “It will bring some privacy into the kitchen and children’s area, so that things can happen in that part of church during the service,” she said.
For Mark Ormerod, the plan to transform the worship area, with a level floor and large screens at either side, would be “transformational”.
Andy Humphries summed up the general mood of enthusiasm when he said: “I’m looking forward to moving the church into the 21st century, and seeing how we can make this space really work and live for the community around us. I’m really excited.”