Purcell wins St Mary Redcliffe Design Competition

02/06/2016

Purcell wins St Mary Redcliffe Design Competition

St Mary Redcliffe announced today [June 2, 2016] that Purcell has won the St Mary Redcliffe Design Competition.

The Competition attracted a strong response and the other four award-winning finalists included leading UK practices: 

  • Carmody Groarke
  • dRMM
  • Eric Parry Architects
  • Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios 

The Reverend Dan Tyndall, Vicar of St Mary Redcliffe, said:

"The Jury was very impressed by the finalists’ presentations, their enthusiasm and good ideas, but ultimately, Purcell demonstrated the deepest understanding of the site and context and the opportunity at St Mary Redcliffe.

We found their scheme to be crisp, integrated and compelling. A particular strength was the dispersal of accommodation across three locations, helping to tie the disparate northern and southern parts of Redcliffe together."

David Hamilton, Director of Projects for competition organisers, Malcolm Reading Consultants, said:

"We were all impressed by the quality of work that each shortlisted finalist presented to the Jury. But Purcell demonstrated that they were the best team to guide the church through the development of the design and delivery of the project."

Dan Talkes, Senior Architect at Purcell, said;

"Purcell is delighted to work with St Mary Redcliffe. For the church, this project represents a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity to repair the fault lines that exist in Redcliffe’s urban fabric and, in doing so, to position the church at the physical, spiritual and social heart of the city.

Our proposal, generated from a ‘stitch’ of interconnected buildings, re-establishes the church’s medieval enclosure and creates a new, permeable edge to the church grounds that will improve public access."

The Grade I listed Bristol church, both a national landmark and a living church, is the equivalent of many European cathedrals and one of the largest parish churches in England. The £12-15m development project will give the church much needed visitor amenities, step-free access, and a community hub on a separate site or sites in the heart of the Redcliffe area. The initiative is linked to wider regeneration plans, placing the church at the heart of a new urban village within the city centre. 

The concept design images can be viewed on the competition website.  

Fifty-three practices entered the competition and of these international studios accounted for nearly twenty per cent. The competition jury included journalist, broadcaster and author Simon Jenkins; Bristol-based contemporary artist Luke Jerram, who was responsible for the Park and Slide installation which turned Bristol’s Park Street into a giant water slide; and Vicky Smith, the new city design manager for Bristol.

St Mary Redcliffe is notable for its connection with many important historical figures, including George Frederick Handel and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It has links with America through artefacts relating to John Cabot’s voyage of 1497 and Admiral Penn – the latter, the namesake of Pennsylvania, is buried within the church.

Elizabeth I described St Mary Redcliffe as ‘the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England’. The church attracts tens of thousands of visitors and tourists annually. Built, and then re- built, over a 300-year period from the early 13th century to the 15th century, the church embodies magnificence, but has always lacked sufficient community and support spaces for its vital work in one of the most deprived wards in the country. 

Notes to editors

St Mary Redcliffe Design Competition

The competition was run in accordance with European Union procurement guidelines under the Restricted Procedure. The competition jury included journalist, broadcaster and author Simon Jenkins, and Bristol-based contemporary artist Luke Jerram, who was responsible for the Park and Slide installation, which turned Bristol’s Park Street into a giant water slide; and Vicky Smith, the new city design manager for Bristol. Malcolm Reading advised the jury.

St Mary Redcliffe

The Christian community has worshipped continuously on the site occupied by St Mary Redcliffe Church for nearly 900 years. The first church here was built in the early 12th century. The present church is a treasure of international importance. A Grade I listed building that is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture – a wall of glass surmounted by a roof of glittering gilded roof bosses of exquisite beauty, elegant 18th century ironwork, carved wood and stone, all framed by light flooding in through vast clerestory and stained glass windows. The oldest parts of the present building date from 1185 although most of the nave, transepts and choir were created by highly skilled yet unrecorded stonemasons in the 14th century.

The building’s floor plan is the traditional cruciform shape – symbolic of the cross used for crucifixion, the Roman method of execution by which Jesus Christ died. The physical location is fundamental to the historic maritime and mercantile importance of Bristol generally and the district of Redcliffe in particular. To the north side of the church lies the line of the medieval Portwall, to the west the quayside and harbour plus the red coloured sandstone cliffs from which the area derives its name. Indeed the church’s boundaries to west, south and east have remained fundamentally unchanged from its medieval plan. All of this makes the location itself of both national and regional signicance. 

Malcolm Reading Consultants

London-based Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is a strategic architectural consultancy which specialises in the selection of contemporary designers. MRC believes in the power of design to create new perceptions and act as an inspiration – whether at the local level, or internationally.

The consultancy offers a service to nd the very best designers for clients with capital projects, whether through open-international, or private-invited competitions. Recent competitions include those for the Museum of London, the Guggenheim Helsinki, the Art Mill, Qatar, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Culture & Education Quarter, the Mumbai City Museum, the gold medal-winning UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015 and New College, Oxford. 

About Purcell

Our practice works as one family of many experts: architects, designers, heritage leaders, and specialist consultants. Ideally placed in key regions covering the UK and Asia Pacific, we undertake projects largely in eight sectors. Clients come to us when they need to make sense of their project. Complex scenarios involving historic sites, heritage buildings, admired places and their transformation, and building new structures and spaces. We have been practising for seven decades making sure our clients’ buildings are designed for use today and for future generations.

Image: Richard Carman