In the running for several property accolades — including being shortlisted for the 2015 RICS North West Awards – is an outstanding £4.9m adaptive reuse project at All Souls Bolton in Astley Street, Bolton.
The project at the Grade II* Listed church has been shortlisted in four of the RICS Award categories: design through innovation, regeneration, community benefit and building conservation.
The scheme also recently won an English Heritage Angel Award for The Best Rescue of Any Other Type of Historic Building or Site.
This unique project is the latest innovative conservation scheme from The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) to provide a sustainable use for historic churches. Main contractors for the project were Walter Carefoot & Sons; architects were OMI Architects
Aside from its religious purpose, the historic church, built in 1881, served as a community hub, a cornerstone of local activity for more than 100 years. However, after closing in 1986, it slowly fell in to disrepair and was vandalised and broken into by thieves.
The recently completed project is a joint partnership between the CCT and the local community, who set up ‘All Souls Bolton’, an independent social enterprise to manage the building. At £4.9 million, the HLF funded All Souls’ is CCT’s biggest ever regeneration project.
Two futuristic free-standing ‘building within a building’ structures have been erected inside the church. These ‘pods’ house a coffee shop and restaurant, meeting and event spaces, and are a centre for heritage learning.
Pod 1 is a three story 10.5m high structure on the south side of the nave. It comprises offices and a kitchen on the ground floor, a production suite, meeting rooms and toilets on the first floor, and classrooms on the second floor.
Pod 2, on the north side, has a single large events space/conference room and movie theatre on the first floor, which is raised up on six columns to accommodate an ‘open air’ coffee shop and restaurant within the nave of the church on the ground floor.
Constructed over a period of just over a year, all materials and machinery were brought in and out through the church’s two-metre wide west doorway. This limitation resulted in the use of prefabricated SIPS panel construction, limiting the need for heavy lifting equipment during construction.
For the first time ever, visitors are able to get up and close with the church’s historic features via a high level open deck circulation system, designed to celebrate the church’s architectural features. As well as adding much needed amenity space within the building, the new design’s stairways and raised walkways take visitors on a journey around the historic building, allowing them to get much closer views of the windows, war memorials and the unique timber roof.
In tandem with the other works, a significant historic repair project took place. Alan Gardner of Alan Gardner Associates historic building surveyors oversaw the £1 million repair project, which included the complete re-roofing of the church, the repair and replacement of over 50% of the leaded windows to the nave, and extensive masonry repairs.
As part of the repair project, a hugely successful programme of training outreach and education took place throughout the build, which included tours, lectures and hands on training in the use of historic materials.
Working on the All Souls Church project, SIPCO Ltd was responsible for the design and manufacture of the structural insulated panels to form the building’s envelope, including intermediate floors.
Commenting on their involvement in the project, SIPCO Ltd Commercial Director, Peter Barr, said:
“This project is unique; it posed some interesting design and logistical challenges and it tested our talented design team to come up with a solution which assisted the steel design team.”
“It was great to work on a project where everyone was enthusiastic and supportive rather than negative and too contractual.”