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Swiss Church, Covent Garden, London, by Christ & Gantenbein

[FIRST LOOK] Christ & Gantenbein’s renovation of ‘idiosyncratic’ 1855 church includes a new organ gallery

Basel-based practice Christ & Gantenbein has completed the renovation of the Swiss Church in London’s Covent Garden.

As well as essential restoration work, the project created new spaces including offices, a parish working area and an organ gallery.

Swiss duo Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein took over the project from their former employer, Herzog & de Meuron. The practice’s design provided 90m² of extra space and increased the volume of the nave by repositioning the organ.

Designed by architect George Vulliamy and completed in 1855, much of the Swiss Church, including its idiosyncratic Palladian facade, remained intact despite damage caused by fire and the Blitz in 1940-41.

Internally, the original lofty barrel vault with its central rooflight and the semi-circular apse have been retained.

New accommodation at the east end is conceived as ‘a house within a house’, which is visually detached from the main volume of the church by set-backs at the sides and at ground-floor level. The interior facade has an undulating screen of glass panels.

The church’s original walls and soffits, formerly blue and yellow, are painted white along with its new concrete structure, in harmony with the joinery’s light finish.

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