A heaven sent opportunity?
You have a magnificent big church building. It’s listed as being of architectural and historic interest and value. But because of its size and age the small dedicated church congregation (and their Diocese) are faced with an increasing maintenance bill which they cannot afford. Neither can they make provision for its future.
That’s the issue facing many churches in the city and in the country, but one the congregation of St Martin’s in Lewes Road, Brighton want to address.
St Martin’s is an enormous church built by the Rev. Henry Wagner in the 1860s to give the local artisans and workers – the poorer families - a beautiful place of worship, and with its stunning architectural features a glimpse of the life to come.
It’s a tricky problem, but the Diocese of Chichester and the Parish are exploring a radical new idea to see if they can find the solution. Supported by a local charity keen to develop new ideas for the city – A Better Brighton & Hove – they are holding an architectural competition with a difference. They are not just looking for innovative design ideas on this magnificent Grade ll listed building, they are seeking team entries which can prove their proposals are viable by bringing to the table end users and/or developers and investors.
They have instructed Colander, architectural competition specialists, to carry out the competition which went live this week. The net for entrants is being spread far and wide – locally, nationally and internationally, to find the best designers and the best uses for the church and hall complex, whilst maintaining some worship space on the site.
Peter Field the Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex has agreed to chair the judging panel. For many years he chaired the Regeneration Partnership for the city and he sees this as a possible way forward to deal with some of the city’s heritage building problems. He said:
“St Martin’s is big in both floor space and volume, and I see no reason why additional space cannot be created to result in a very large area that can be put to a variety of uses - be they commercial, cultural or community. Care will be needed to reflect and incorporate the magnificent internal features, but we could end up with a very exciting project.
If we find viable ways to restore this magnificent building then we may have a great blueprint for others to use in the future.
The competition is open to architects, designers, developers, investors and occupiers and full details can be found by visiting the Colander website. Registration of interest closes in September.