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Dow Jones and LDN shortlisted in York church refurb contest

St Michael le Belfrey Church, York
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Dow Jones and LDN Architects are among five teams shortlisted in the RIBA contest to reconfigure York’s Grade I-listed St Michael le Belfrey Church

Conservation specialists Purcell and Simpson & Brown Architects as well as London firm Steyn Studio in collaboration with Wigan’s Anthony Grimshaw Associates complete the list.

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 sits 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: ‘We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with these experienced and creative architect-led teams and look forward to seeing how they interpret our requirements as a contemporary, faith-filled church family, worshipping in our listed building. We are excited to see how they might create a beautiful, flexible, modern space which blends thoughtfully with the church’s architecture and history.’

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.

Stage one judges included Keith Williams of Keith Williams Architects and members of the Parochial Church Council at St Michael le Belfrey. The five finalists will now develop conceptual proposals ahead of a public exhibition in May.

The winning team will deliver the scheme from RIBA Stage 1 through to 7.


  • Dow Jones
  • LDN Architects
  • Purcell
  • Simpson & Brown
  • Steyn Studio with Anthony Grimshaw Associates
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