The new Charlotte Chapel
The congregation of Charlotte Chapel will soon be able to enjoy new facilities when they move into the refurbished St George’s West in the centre of Edinburgh at the end of April.
Architects Lee Boyd were successful in a limited competition to provide architectural services for Charlotte Chapel. St George’s West is an unusual Baroque Revival 19th Century Church and is significantly larger than their present building. Although the building requires essential refurbishment and reorganisation, the opportunities for flexibility and multiple uses give Charlotte Chapel the potential to grow further and expand their mission.
Alan Thomson, Director at Lee Boyd commented: “The project is essentially about making the original building fit for the purposes of Charlotte Chapel and the significant upgrading work is specifically tailored to suit their needs as a vibrant modern Church.”
Work on the refurbishment has included spatial reorganisation, the upgrading of most finishes and complete rewiring and re-ventilation. New pods have been carefully inserted into the main worship space to accommodate toilets, coffee points and serving of meals. In addition the pews have been removed with a new hardwood floor supporting what is now a large flexible space.
The former lower hall has been reinstated in the proposals to accommodate the huge variety of activities organised by Charlotte Chapel. Coupled with the main worship space and other rooms, there is a flexible suit of spaces to deal with most challenges.
Alan added: “When the building was taken over the old church hall at the lower ground floor was sub divided into lettable office spaces, each with their own floor levels, servicing and interiors. So a key part of the project was to reinstate the hall. This required a complete strip out of the space and the intervention of a unifying new floor.
“The reinstatement of the lower ground hall and the barrel vaulted foyer space serving the hall, also previously subdivided; now provides generous and flexible space for multiple activities. Another significant change is the introduction of a new stair from ground floor to the lower ground foyer, improving circulation and satisfying requirements for escape.”
Work on the project began in May 2015 and is set to be completed by the end of April 2016 with the main contract work undertaken by Elmwood Projects.
The move to this church and the resultant project are necessary for Charlotte Baptist Church to continue to thrive and support their broad outreach. Although the building is large, the organisation of spaces and the quality of services did not meet their aspirations for a modern and comfortable church environment.
“Although the rejuvenation of this key city centre building will benefit the local community in Edinburgh’s West End, the facilities within are primarily for church use and to support their own busy calendar of activity,” said Alan.
With the project near completion, Alan and his team at Lee Boyd have been pleased to have been able to work on a project that breaths life back into a landmark church in the city and will support the congregation of Charlotte Chapel for years to come.
He concluded: “We work with many church organisations and have an understanding of the challenges they and their building face in the 21st Century. The transformation at Charlotte Chapel will hopefully provide a sustainable future for both. Lee Boyd obviously relish the opportunity to tackle a project with such important ambitions and we take very seriously the responsibility to carefully manage the client’s budget. In the case of most churches this budget is often reliant on giving from the congregation, a factor which focusses the minds when taking difficult decisions.”