The “architects’ description of the project:
The parish church of Our Lady and St George, Walthamstow, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brentwood was destroyed by fire in April 1993. The Practice was appointed as architects for a replacement building after producing the preferred design in a limited competition held by the parish. Inkpen Downie were also responsible for ensuring the design obtained planning permission.The design innovates not only in terms of the liturgy but also environmental control. The spire, which stands above the baptismal font, is used as a device to induce passive ventilation drawing cool air across the church from the north facing elevations. The church has underfloor heating which avoids the need for radiators and provides a safer and more comfortable environment, particularly for the elderly and inquisitive toddlersThe building was completed and dedicated in 1997 to a contract sum of £1.1m. In 1998 it was nominated for a Civic Trust Award.The design for the church is deliberately complex in terms of geometry. The intention is to achieve a sense of celebration and degree of richness without recourse to decoration, and to provide an environment in which both joyful and reflective worship have a place.The two principle spaces, the main church and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel each have a unique threshold. That to the church is compressed beneath the spire and contains the baptismal font. Only past this point as the space opens up has one really entered the church.The experience of entering the chapel is very different. One approaches through a drum flooded with top light and enters a space which is darker and intimate.The liturgical furniture for Our Lady & St George was also designed by Inkpen Downie, and we co-ordinated the commissioning of artworks and new glass.