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Snug Architects’ Wall of Answered Prayer submitted for planning

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Snug Architects has submitted plans for its contest-winning Wall of Answered Prayer – a ‘dramatic and inspirational’ 50m-tall roadside structure outside Birmingham

The Southampton-based practice was chosen for the £9.5 million project from an international shortlist (see bottom) following a lengthy RIBA-run competition, which launched four years ago and received 134 entries from 24 countries.

The 50m-high structure will be built on a 4ha site between the M6, M42 and proposed HS2 line at Coleshill Manor on the edge of Birmingham. It will be constructed from a million bricks, each one symbolising a prayer answered. Among them will be 75,000 ‘heritage bricks’ representing stories of answered prayer from throughout the UK’s history ‘to celebrate the nation’s incredibly rich Christian heritage’.

Snug’s design, which was lodged with North Warwickshire Borough Council, was inspired by a Möbius strip and incorporates a visitor centre. It is expected to equal the size of 62 semi-detached houses. It features innovative technology which will allow visitors to read the answered prayers relating to each brick using their phones.

The practice’s design director Paul Bulkeley described the ‘large-scale monument project’ as a ‘structure of national significance’. 

The concept was devised by former Leicester City FC chaplain Richard Gamble. The contest was funded by more than £47,000 in crowd-funded donations with the planning process kickstarted after £170,000 was raised from a second crowdfunding campaign.

Gamble said: ‘This building has been my dream for many years. It’s phenomenal to see it all finally fleshed out by Snug in such a beautiful and elegant design.

’Our hope is this will be a piece of art that provokes discussion and that, when people visit The Wall of Answered Prayer and interact with the one million testimonies, they will see a small glimpse of God’s character. We expect that this will have a significant impact on our nation.’

He added: ‘Since the RIBA competition ended, I’ve been able to work more closely with Snug on a more detailed brief, and the team has taken the design to the next level. I couldn’t be more pleased.’

Competition judges included Renato Benedetti of Benedetti Architects, who was the RIBA’s adviser; BBC TV Songs of Praise presenter Pam Rhodes; and Labour MP Stephen Timms, an evangelical Christian.

Benedetti, said: ‘It was clear to me from the beginning that this was the stand-out proposal. Its soaring sculptural form, meaningful elegant variety of spaces and clever use of the site, had the inspiring wow-factor to engage and enthral visitors.’

The wall is expected to play a major role in boosting regeneration in its surrounding area, rivalling Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North, which generates substantial revenues for the local economy each year.

The competition finalists included UK-based graduates Luke Macnab, Andrew Wardrope and Thu Nguyen-Phuoc (supported by FCBS); young Italian architect Stefano Baseggio and Quattro Design Architects from Gloucester.

Shortlisted emerging Danish architects Mathias Bank Stigsen, Asbjørn Staunstrup Lund and Thomas Sigsgaard Jensen – who won a public vote – walked away from the contest in 2017.

Subject to planning, work could start on the scheme in December this year (2020) with completion planned for 2022.

Winner: Snug Architects

Competition-winning scheme by Snug Architects from early 2019

Source: Image by Darcstudio

Competition-winning scheme by Snug Architects from early 2019

Project data

Client The Wall of Answered Prayer
Architect Snug Architects
Local authority North Warwickshire Borough Council
Landscape architect UBU Design
Planning consultant Turleys
Structural engineer Ramboll
M&E consultant To be confirmed
Quantity surveyor To be confirmed
CDM adviser: To be confirmed
Lighting consultant To be confirmed
Main contractor To be confirmed
Funding Privately funded
Tender date Expected Summer 2020
Start on site date December 2020
Completion date February 2022
Contract duration 14 months
Form of contract and/or procurement Design & Build
Annual CO2 emissions To be confirmed
Total cost £9.5million

The wall of answered prayer model (05)

The wall of answered prayer model (05)

The shortlist

  • Snug Architects, Southampton (WINNER)
  • Stefano Baseggio, Italy
  • Quattro Design Architects, Gloucester
  • Mathias Bank Stigsen, Asbjørn Staunstrup Lund and Thomas Sigsgaard Jensen, Denmark (public vote winner)
  • Luke Macnab, Andrew Wardrope and Thu Nguyen-Phuoc – with support from FCBS, Bath 
  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • It would be interesting to calculate the environmental cost of digging into productive farmland and natural habitat, the production of one million bricks and the fuel being burned by visitors in order to get there over its lifespan.
    Is this really worth it?
    I think I would much prefer continuing to eat meat.

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