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St Andrew Holborn, City of London

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Restoration of rebuilt Wren-designed guild church by DaeWha Kang makes a space that is serene, while building in flexibility and accessibility

St Andrew Holborn.
St Andrew Holborn. Credit: Kyungsub Shin

2024 RIBA London Award

St Andrew Holborn, City of London
DaeWha Kang Design for St Andrew Holborn Guild Church Council
Contract value: Confidential
GIA: 1000m2

St Andrew Holborn is a grade I listed church that was reduced to ruins in the Second World War and rebuilt in 1961, in the main respecting Christopher Wren’s original late 17th century design. It is a guild church, without a designated parish, and over the years had seen a drop in visitor numbers. The project’s aim was to restore its potential and enable a flexibility of uses, opening the building up both physically and spiritually to welcome and be accessible to all. The interior has been decluttered. Within its white and pale decor, the material palette is restrained and there is a clear distinction between old and new. The immediate sense on entering is that of a place of solace, a haven of silence in the city. The architects have remade a space that is serene, light and calm, capturing simplicity while retaining grandeur.

  • St Andrew Holborn.
    St Andrew Holborn. Credit: Kyungsub Shin
  • St Andrew Holborn.
    St Andrew Holborn. Credit: Kyungsub Shin
  • St Andrew Holborn.
    St Andrew Holborn. Credit: Kyungsub Shin
  • St Andrew Holborn.
    St Andrew Holborn. Credit: Kyungsub Shin
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A stone diamond-patterned floor has replaced the old black and white vinyl tiles and pays homage to the original Wren design. The former fixed pews have been repurposed to enable their moveability. The baptistery chapel has been reorganised and a new font is set over a spring that was uncovered in the church’s crypt, providing water for christenings. New, specially commissioned artwork has been introduced.

Within the main body of the church, more intimate spaces for smaller audiences are defined with pools of light. There is a new Lady Chapel. This is demarcated by a backdrop and screen of laser-cut brass and fine metalwork. The patterning cleverly references a whole host of ideas. You can envisage fishing nets, reminiscent of St Andrew the fisherman; the chaos of the sea, exemplifying Mary, ‘Star of the Sea’; as well as heavenly spheres, a nod to Wren the astronomer and mathematician.

  • St Andrew Holborn.
    St Andrew Holborn. Credit: Kyungsub Shin
  • St Andrew Holborn.
    St Andrew Holborn. Credit: Yuki Sugiura
  • St Andrew Holborn.
    St Andrew Holborn. Credit: Yuki Sugiura
  • St Andrew Holborn.
    St Andrew Holborn. Credit: Yuki Sugiura
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There were no original drawings to work from. Historical research was deciphered from builders’ receipts. This restoration is not pastiche. The repair and restoration are subtle interventions, with a focus on the future while safeguarding Wren’s original design.

St Andrew achieves its sustainability through the use of healthy and sustainable materials, energy efficient fixtures and fittings and its ensured longevity. Today, the church is thriving. Environmentally, it is naturally ventilated, warm or cool as required. Economically, it is a success with a greater footfall in church services, as well as hosting hired-out events and embracing an increasing number of passers-by.

See the rest of the RIBA London winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor Chichester Stoneworks

Structural engineer The Morton Group

Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Greenwood

MEP, lighting and sustainability Atelier Ten

Heritage consultant Donald Insall Associates

 

Credit: DaeWha Kang Design
Credit: DaeWha Kang Design
Credit: DaeWha Kang Design
Credit: DaeWha Kang Design
Credit: DaeWha Kang Design
Credit: DaeWha Kang Design

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