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European Architecture Prize : Cultural Heritage, 2010

1 Apr 2010

Europa Nostra Awards Winner

Eric Parry Architects’ renewal of St-Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London is one of only two UK projects to be awarded a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award it was announced today.

Europa Nostra Awards winner
East Window photo : David Lyndsey

This unique Awards programme highlights some of Europe’s best achievements, and showcases remarkable efforts made in safeguarding Europe’s rich architectural, landscape, archaeological and artistic heritage. The Awards celebrate not only outstanding initiatives, conservation projects, research, and education successes within Europe’s cultural heritage sector, but also reward the exceptionally dedicated service to heritage conservation by individuals and/or groups. The 2010 winners have been selected from nearly 140 submitted projects, stemming from 26 countries. The selection of Laureates is made by one of the four Heritage Awards Juries, composed of independent experts from across Europe.

The renewal project at St Martin’s is one of the most complex undertaken in London for many years. The scheme is set against a rich backdrop of heritage, community and faith that is both sacred and secular. The multi-award winning scheme has safeguarded the future of the site providing modern, purpose-designed facilities for the many communities that inhabit the site, including The Connection at St Martin’s, one of the UK’s largest charities providing services to the capital’s homeless, the Chinese community, musicians who rehearse and perform, as well as the local parish.

New public spaces lie at the heart of the scheme: a widened Church Path includes a glazed entrance pavilion providing access to a new foyer below ground and the reconfigured café in the crypt, as well as community meeting rooms, a small chapel and the Chinese Community Centre. The form of the pavilion is inverted at the eastern end of Church Path where a lightwell brings daylight deep into the below-ground spaces. The churchyard has also been reconfigured, providing a place for contemplation and reflection.

A Nash-designed terrace to the north of the Church has been refurbished to provide modern, purpose-built accommodation. The Connection now has flexible spaces in which to undertake its social care work, A day centre, night centre, medical facilities, café and rooms for counselling and workshops have been provided, reflecting St Martin’s ethos as the ‘church with the ever open door’. On the first and second floors of the adjacent vestry, a new extension links to the clergy offices and the site management team.

The conservation works to the church have removed later Victorian additions and returned the interior to its 18th-century glory. Clear hand-made glass has replaced the translucent glazing, allowing natural light once again to flood into the interior space. A new East window, designed by Shirazeh Houshiary with Pip Horne, has replaced the window installed following World War II bomb damage. The church’s elaborate decorative plasterwork has been restored; in addition, the pulpit has been relocated close to its original position, improving sightlines for congregation and audiences and the chancel reordered to allow greater flexibility for worship and concerts. The exterior has been completely restored and cleaned.

photo © Timothy Soar

Dr Roger Woodley the UK representative on the Europa Nostra Jury, said: ‘The entire European Jury was excited by the way the dramatic and confident new work merged with and enhanced the equally confident classicism of Gibbs and Nash and they loved the meticulous restoration. The project is a credit both to London and the UK as a whole.”

Eric Parry, Principal of Eric Parry Architects welcomed the award: “After almost a decade of work always energized by the clarity of purpose, this award is the most important recognition of a massive team effort, and we are delighted.”

The awards will be presented during the 8th Annual European Heritage Awards Ceremony, taking place in Aya Irini in Istanbul, Turkey on 10 June 2010, as part of the Europa Nostra Annual Congress. These events contribute to the celebration of Istanbul as a European Capital of Culture 2010 and are included in the official programme of Istanbul 2010.

The Europa Nostra plaque will then be unveiled in a ceremony at St Martin’s on Thursday 16th September 2010.

European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award images / information received 010410

Location:Istanbul, Turkey

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