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Halo Reordering, St Mary Magdalene Church, Tanworth-in-Arden

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Communion Architects’ beautifully designed and crafted project addresses conservation and inclusivity to bring Warwickshire village church the 2024 RIBA West Midlands Small Project of the Year Award

Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight

2024 RIBA West Midlands Award

2024 RIBA West Midlands Small project of the year

Halo Reordering, St Mary Magdalene Church, Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire
Communion Architects for PCC of St Mary Magdalene Church, Tanworth-in-Arden
Contract value: £388,691
GIA: 490m2
Cost per m2: £793

The reordering is a small but locally impactful project which has opened up and enlivened this Grade I-listed church. At the heart of its community in the Warwickshire village of Tanworth-in-Arden, its churchyard contains the grave of a well-known singer-songwriter, and as such draws visitors on a global scale too.

Communion Architects’ interventions have provided the once decaying and under-used church, previously entered by steep steps, with a fully accessible and inclusive space that sits very respectfully and lightly within the conservation context. Although produced on a tight budget, its elements are beautifully designed and crafted. With a floor of European oak and a bespoke halo light above, the function space also features a discreet foldaway servery for offering refreshments. A specially engineered hydraulic system allows the font to be easily moved away, to facilitate community and social use of the space.

  • Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
    Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
  • Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
    Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
  • Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
    Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
  • Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
    Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
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Working in such a historical setting is always a challenge, and requires expert knowledge, true understanding, and exemplary skill to complete – all demonstrated here. The small budget worked very hard and was well managed to ensure that quality was high, benefit was shared for the most, and specialist skills and bespoke innovation were afforded where needed.

The hydraulic system for the font was designed and made within the region. Almost unnoticeable, the jury found it a delight. Similarly the servery: when packed away, it is unassuming and feels part of the place; yet unfolded, it transforms the space to create a secondary function beyond the religious. Robust and perfectly sized, its design uses religious symbols in the joinery and ironmongery to befit the historical context, yet with a thoroughly modern definition.

The inclusively remodelled space means that visitors dropping by can now find connection to the local community, thus expanding relations, communication, and opportunities for learning beyond the local.

  • Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
    Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
  • Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
    Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
  • Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
    Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
  • Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
    Halo Reordering, St. Mary Magdalene Church. Martine Hamilton Knight
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The jury commended the approach to both conservation and inclusivity. The architect has worked hard to understand the community’s needs, and collaborated directly with several of its members to produce items such as the artwork on the glass doors, creating local pride through having agency and belonging. The jury also felt that bringing the building into wider community use has helped the long-term sustainability of such a place, but without having a detrimental impact on the conservation and preservation of the historical setting. The result is a shared, sociable space which can be there to support communities into the future too.

See the rest of the RIBA West Midlands 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

 

Credit: Communion Architects
Credit: Communion Architects
Credit: Communion Architects
Credit: Communion Architects
Credit: Communion Architects

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