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Double win for OMI on pair of faith projects

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OMI Architects has won a competition for a £5 million church restoration in Toxteth, Liverpool, and planning for a new Jesuit monastery in Birmingham

The Manchester practice was selected ahead of nine rival bids to win the commission to restore and convert Liverpool’s disused Welsh Presbyterian Church, a project which will be worth about £452,000 in fees, according to the contract award notice.

OMI – working with local firm Chambers Architecture Conservation – will oversee RIBA Stages 0 to 7 of the transformation of the Grade II-listed Gothic landmark into an environmental centre for children, families and the local community.

The project, supported by the Merseyside Building and Preservation Trust (MBPT) and planned to complete in 2022, will restore and convert the 1867 former church, which was abandoned in the 1980s and is now derelict.

Known locally as the Toxteth Cathedral, the William and George Audsley-designed complex was an important focal point for Liverpool’s Welsh community until its closure. It is now one of the most significant at-risk buildings in the city.

The project will transform the ruined structure and its former Sunday school into a satellite base for the KIND charity, which has been based inside the former Liverpool City Farm for the past 25 years and provides support to poor and disadvantaged young people.

The building – located on Upper Hill Street a short distance from the William and George Audsley-designed Old Hebrew Congregation Synagogue – was recently purchased by MBPT, which is also promoting the restoration of several other key historic Liverpool buildings including the Grade II*-listed Wellington Rooms for which OMI has completed the feasibility study.

OMI will transform the church into a new home for KIND’s Social Environmental Education Development (SEED) centre initiative. Once complete, the building will feature flexible engagement spaces and a small heritage centre. An initial design report was completed by Chambers Architecture Conservation last year.

Manresa House, Birmingham by OMI Architects

Manresa House, Birmingham by OMI Architects

Manresa House, Birmingham by OMI Architects

Meanwhile, Birmingham City Council has granted planning permission for a new £4 million monastery complex for the Society of Jesus designed by OMI. Planned to complete In 2021, the 1,350m² project in Harborne will alter and extend Manresa House, which serves as a novitiate for the order’s activities in north-west Europe.

The new novitiate will provide a place of residence and training for prospective members of the society, who come to live at Manresa House during the first two years of their training. It will feature 24 bedrooms and also includes a dining room, kitchen, offices, meeting rooms, library and a new chapel.

An existing building will be retained to form the heart of the scheme, containing the welcome and library spaces. To the south a new wing will be constructed containing guest bedrooms and a communal dining room.

The scheme has been designed to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating and includes technologies such as PVs, ground source heat pump and grey water recycling.

Manresa House, Birmingham by OMI Architects

Manresa House, Birmingham by OMI Architects

Manresa House, Birmingham by OMI Architects

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