Our Manchester office, in collaboration with Conservation Accredited Architects Anthony Grimshaw Associates, Architects Steyn Studio and Webb Yates Structural Engineers, were shortlisted to the final 5, from over 100 entrants, in the recent international RIBA competition for the repair and contemporary reordering of the medieval church of St Michael le Belfrey in York.
Adjacent to York Minster, this gem required re-roofing and extensive stone repairs to its weather-worn magnesian limestone exterior. The interior scheme, designed Steyn Studio, was a striking solution to the brief to provide a more flexible and light filled space. A centralised concept with a halo element allowed the multi-use division of the interior as needed with acoustic curtains. This non-invasive scheme hid all the service elements, lighting and AV, keeping the historic interior clean and visually ‘tech free’ whilst the curtains purified the busy interior in a veil like manner.
The scheme also included a suspended central sculpture to be made by Rachel Grimshaw in collaboration with the 300 strong congregation, made from Parian porcelain imprints of hands in prayer referencing the murmuration of birds in flight. A glass pavilion in the forecourt of the church referenced architectural details within the existing building while remaining a strikingly modern addition to the historic surroundings, in true SPAB style.
The scheme was amongst the 5 shortlisted but the only one which included a collaboration between two architectural practices; one the well-established Conservation practice of Anthony Grimshaw Associates (set up in 1962 by Anthony Grimshaw and now run by his two daughters) and the more recent practice Steyn Studio which created the new build Bosjes Chapel in South Africa (see www.steynstudio.com). It was a happy collaboration which combined the strengths of both practices.
Image © Steyn Studio