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Piercy & Co completes church with ‘abstracted spire’ in west London

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The scheme wraps around a Grade II-listed chapel and has now been completed after a seven-year design process

Piercy & Co has designed a new church for the International Presbyterian Church Ealing. The scheme, which got the go ahead in January 2014, evolved through extensive consultation with the congregation and fundraising group. The new space increases congregational capacity, fitting up to 250 people instead of the previous 80.

6. piercyco dgc hall simone bossi

Taking the high ceilings and vaulted spaces of traditional church architecture as a starting point, the building’s form integrates a pleated roofline, also mimicking the pitched roofs of the local residential streetscape. The roof geometry is supported by a hybrid structure of steel framing and cross-laminated timber which arrived on site in prefabricated panels. The warmth of the wood grain was selected to add a sense of domesticity to an otherwise very civic looking building.

Throughout the scheme, off-the-shelf materials and products have been arranged in a bespoke way, retaining simplicity in its detailing and allowing rapid on-site construction after an extensive design period which took more than seven years.

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Architect’s view

We pleated and folded the roof form to create a finer grained roofscape, reducing the perception of the building’s massing within a predominantly residential street. But the folds also have a symbolic role: as the roof rises towards the front of the site, the folds peak in an abstracted spire, signalling the building’s ecclesiastical function.

The key to this scheme was retaining our ambition for the building – and the ambition of the client – while building in a simple, cost-effective way. The new church creates a centre for the community that preserves its historical heritage and represents a bold move to the future.

Stuart Piercy and Pete Jennings, directors, Piercy & Co

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Client’s view

Piercy & Co has been working with us on designs for a new building at Drayton Green since 2011. The existing chapel became too small for our capacity and the ancillary buildings attached did not provide the range of space required for their various uses.

Many options had been explored for the site, including mixed-use incorporating residential units that would have resulted in the demolition of the original chapel, which became listed through the process. The added complexity of the project meant that we required an architect partner that would be more sensitive to both the newly listed chapel and the surrounding area in a new design.

The design responds perfectly to our need for flexibility and use for a growing community, while creating beautiful, uplifting spaces that strongly connect the building to its main purpose as a place of worship. The new building enables us to develop our current ministry and activities. It provides the necessary space for our congregation, with the building reflecting what we are about as a church.

Paul Levy, reverend, International Presbyterian Church Ealing 

Pc dc ground floor plan

Project data 

Start on site September 2017
Completion November 2018
Gross internal floor area 754m² (including chapel)
Form of contract JCT Design & Build
Construction cost £2.23 million
Construction cost per m² £2,780
Architect Piercy & Co
Client International Presbyterian Church Ealing
Structural engineer Heyne Tillett Steel
M&E consultant Arup
QS Brendan Hennessy Associates
Project manager Brendan Hennessy Associates (pre tender); Appleyard & Trew LLP (tender stage)
Lighting designer 18 Degrees Below 
Approved building inspector Butler & Young 
Main contractor Quinn London Limited
CAD software used MicroStation 2D, 3D Studio Max, Rhino

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The existing grade II-listed chapel seems to have been all but swamped, and it's not clear from the images how much of it is still visible - perhaps the ambitious accommodation schedule would not have been affordable had it involved selling the existing site and finding another.

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