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Extending the faith

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PCKO Architects has designed a glazed extension to the parish church of Christ the Saviour in Ealing, London

The use of glass - in particular its almost magical ability to enclose space while enhancing the quality of the English climate - is a key element in the design ethos of the practice PCKO Architects. 'In England the climate is a perfect balance - neither too hot nor too cold -which allows us to be comfortable in large glazed enclosures for most of the time, ' explains director Andrew Ogorzalek. 'And the quality of the English landscape and external environment is unique - glazed enclosures allow you to become part of it, while being sheltered from wind and rain.'

The practice has developed the use of glass in previous projects. At the Swansea Foyer (AJ Building Study 19.6.97), three storeys of rooms for young people were grouped around a courtyard with a glass roof, creating a light-filled common meeting space. The redevelopment of Hayes School, Bromley included a new glazed 'street'where children could gather on the way to classes (AJ Building study 14.6.01). Its latest project is a community/parish hall in Ealing, a modest building enhanced by a delicate glazed enclosure which acts as an extension to the hall and as a lobby and link to a Victorian parish church.

Ealing's parish church of Christ the Saviour, a Grade II*-listed stone building designed by George Gilbert Scott, sits on a prominent site in the heart of the town. In the 1950s, a parish hall - a drab concretepanelled single-storey block - was slotted into the narrow space between the north wall of the church, the two-storey pitchedroof sacristy at the rear and the boundary wall of the adjoining school on the north side. PCKO Architects won a limited competition to replace this with a new hall on the same narrow site, improving the facilities and linking them to the church.

The new design does more than just fulfil this brief. It creates a hall and a diaphanous, almost invisible glass enclosure, which must be a source of delight to everyone who uses it.

At the same time, because the enclosure is transparent, the weathered Bath stone dressings and ragstone surfaces to the north wall of the church are clearly visible. In this respect, the design earned the approval of English Heritage, which would have been unhappy with any solid extension abutting the church.

The glazed enclosure is unassuming to the point of being virtually invisible. Walking up from Ealing's main street you are at first aware of the purple steel spine beam - the glass roof support - which emerges between the north wall of the parish church and the new hall. The glass enclosure fills the space between these two solid elements. It has a butterfly glass roof which rises on both sides of the spine beam.

On one side, it rises to meet the roof of the hall, creating a glass extension to the main hall on the ground floor. On the other side, it rises to barely touch the buttressed north wall of the church, enclosing a generous lobby. The spine beam rests on six reconstructed-stone columns; the spaces between them are glazed and fitted with glass doors which connect the hall and the lobby space, so there is a natural flow of people between hall and lobby spaces.

The new hall, a simple two-storey pitched-roof building, is set hard against the school wall to form a solid barrier against noise, and to align with the sacristy building.

Offices, stores and meeting rooms occupy the first floor; the main hall, with kitchen, storage space and WCs, is on the ground floor, so that it can be shared by parishioners, the school and the local community.

The south wall consists of a deep truss set below the eaves which spans 14m, so that the main hall space extends seamlessly into the glass extension. Retractable screens allow the hall to be divided into two when required.

Both client and architect had envisioned the glazed lobby as a place where members of the congregation could pause and chat as they emerged from a service. Last week, the architect checked it out on a Sunday as he was driving past - he was pleased to see that the lobby was full of people doing just that.

CREDITS

ARCHITECT PCKO Architects: Andrew Ogorzalek, Peter Chlapowski, Zbigniew Karakiewicz, Paul Webb, Katherine Ogorzalek, Marcin Panpuch

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER TZG Partnership

QUANTITY SURVEYOR Summers Inman

CONTRACTOR Higgins City

GLAZING SUBCONTRACTOR Birchdale Glass

SUPPLIERS Steelwork O'Farrell Building and Construction; structural glazing Pilkington Architectural; hardwood floor Junckers; carpet Tretford; reconstructed stone Bradstone Aggregate Industries; sanitaryware Armitage Shanks; ironmongery IR Architectural Hardware; pavingMarshalls

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