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Charlotte Baptist Chapel, West End of Edinburgh

Charlotte Baptist Chapel is moving into the former St George’s West Church, an existing 19th Century church in the West End of Edinburgh.

The resultant refurbishment project offers the Charlotte Chapel congregation a place where they can unite as one, with various activities available to all, including the core Sunday services.

In May 2015, the project to make their new home fit for purpose began, designed to regenerate key areas of the building. The project is currently scheduled to reach completion in February 2016. Elmwood Projects is the main contractor, whilst Lee Boyd Architects is providing architectural services alongside a design team of other consultants.

The renovation includes major upgrading of most of the building interior, including reorganisation of the lower ground floor to create a new hall, new pods within the sanctuary and on the balcony, and extensive new services. The reformation of the lower hall provides a multi use flexible space capable of subdivision for many church activities. This new space supports the main sanctuary, now also more flexible by removing the pews and both are supported by new kitchens and toilets.

Premier Construction caught up with Contracts Manager of Elmwood Projects, George Barrett, to ask a few questions regarding the project. George commented:

“The developments aren’t yet complete; we have currently just finished the strip out stage and the project is due to be complete in February next year.”

He added:

“It’s a very interesting project to work on.”

Established in 1972, Elmwood Projects began as a family business and still remains as that, having grown from a local shop fitting and bespoke manufactured joinery firm to a business operation offering multiple services throughout the UK.

The company covers all aspects of the trade, carrying out commercial and office fit outs, museum and heritage fit outs and all types of manufacturing including seating and units. With their own workshop presenting a large number of benches and joiners, Elmwood are more than capable of delivering an honest, reliable and high-quality service.

Charlotte Baptist Chapel, West End of Edinburgh

Part of Lee Boyd Architects’ brief was to understand the church’s weekly calendar for sessions, tailoring the design of the building to meet requirements, whilst at the same time ensuring plenty of space. Work has seen the lower ground hall opened up and this has uncovered a barrel vault that had been stripped back to create a foyer space to the new lower hall.

At the ground floor is the large impressive sanctuary with balconies on three sides. At first floor level over the foyer there is a further suite of existing rooms that will be refurbished.

The architects are aiming to retain as much of the building’s authentic character as possible, however new additions have been added for convenience including stairs to the lower level, as well as the addition of pods in the sanctuary so that meals can be served from the downstairs kitchen. Several coffee points have also been considerately situated, to enable members of the congregation easy access to hot drinks without having to walk to other floors.

Work has also included rewiring the site, along with the installation of new plumbing and new heating – however all of the elaborate internal structure is hidden away to keep the site neat. Walls and partitions have been added, as well as cladding to provide a simple but elegant interior.

Speaking to Alan Thompson, of Lee Boyd Architects, Premier Construction discovered a few things. He commented:

“Due to the fact that this project has taken place over a long period of time, we have built a good working relationship with the chapel, and I understand the relevance the project will be to the congregation. “

He added:

“I have worked on similar projects before and once the buildings are in operation, it is always great to receive positive feedback, hopefully that will be the case with Charlotte Chapel!”

Lee Boyd Architects is an independent design organisation comprising ten team members, with a small office based in Edinburgh. The practice has a wealth of experience having worked on a variety of projects within different sectors, including churches, community buildings, domestic work, housing and frameworks.

 

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