Serving the community in many ways

Words:
Isabelle Priest

Bethnal Green Mission Church is much more than a place of worship

  • The church.
    The church. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • Community hall.
    Community hall. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
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The new Bethnal Green Mission Church replaces a 1952 building for the organisation on the same site at the end of Paradise Gardens in London's East End. Like the 152-year history of the Mission Church, the building is idiosyncratic and diverse in its provision. Undertaken with Thornsett Group, the project is laid out over seven floors and includes a church, two community halls, a café and office space for the church and other voluntary sector tenants, as well as four floors of private apartments – 14 for private sale plus a vicarage.

  • East elevation.
    East elevation. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • Landscaping.
    Landscaping. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • The café.
    The café. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
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In form, it is a midrise city block, facing onto a listed park, bound by roads to the east and west. The facade is an expressed grid of precast concrete, with infills of full height windows or brickwork in a raking monk bond. The church is indicated by elongated stained glass windows to the principle facade, as well as by a picked out a cross. The café (itself a social enterprise) provides a welcoming entrance point, helping potential service users over the threshold as well as spilling into the relandscaped park. A new route across the park helps transform it from a dead end into a well-used public space.

The facilities in the new building will enable the church to continue its tradition of serving the community, in particular with its foodbank, community kitchen and showers for the night shelter. This diverse range of activities was made possible by creating tightly planned overlapping flexible spaces.

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Credits

Architect Gatti Routh Rhodes
Executive architect Capital Architecture
Developer Thornsett Group
Main contractor CURO
Structure Price & Myers
M&E engineer OCSC
Quantity surveyor and CDM STACE
Acoustics RBA Acoustics
Landscape Guarda Landscape
Stained glass Coralie Bickford-Smith