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Competition: St Michael le Belfrey Church, York

St Michael le Belfrey Church, York
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The RIBA has launched an international contest to reconfigure York’s Grade I-listed St Michael le Belfrey Church

Open to architect-led multidisciplinary teams, the two-stage competition seeks innovative proposals to refurbish and ‘re-order’ the 1537 landmark which has an 800-strong congregation and is next to York Minster.

The £3.5 million project will draw on contemporary technology to transform the popular venue into a ‘welcoming, accessible and warm church environment, with a flexible interior arrangement which remains faithful to its heritage’. Five shortlisted teams will receive £7,000 to participate in the contest’s design phase.

The church’s vicar Matthew Porter said: ‘This project is all about making our historic church building better suited for worship and mission in the 21st century; being better equipped so we, and future generations, can even more effectively worship God and reach out with the love of Christ, to York and beyond.’

Architect Keith Williams, who is acting as RIBA adviser on the competition, said: ‘This stunningly beautiful church in its spectacular location next to one of Europe’s greatest cathedrals, is an absolute gem. Dating from the early 16th century, St Michael le Belfrey exhibits many layers of architectural intervention as patterns of worship and social structures have evolved over time.

‘The great challenge set out in this competition is to create the new legacy, the 21st-century architectural intervention which will facilitate evolving patterns of worship for now and for generations to come.’

The church’s parish was merged with nearby St Cuthbert’s Church in the early 1970s following a revival led by the English Anglican priest, evangelist and author David Watson.

Today the building is in need of a replacement roof and repairs to its belfry. An existing pipe organ is also due to be relocated off-site freeing up additional spaces within the structure.

The project aims to create a new flexible layout for the church while creating a new ‘beautifully executed’ exterior welcome area alongside improved toilets, catering and changing facilities.

Interested teams must first register and submit an expression of interest featuring a team description, motivation for applying, and relevant examples of previous work. Stage one judges include Williams and members of the Parochial Church Council at St Michael le Belfrey.

The winning team will deliver the scheme from RIBA Stage 1 through to 7. The deadline for applications is 2pm, 19 February.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

RIBA Competitions
No 1 Aire Street

Tel: 0113 203 1490
Email: riba.competitions@riba.org 

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