St Marylebone Church has served its Parish since the early 12th Century, when the first church was constructed. The current building constructed in 1813 and consecrated in 1817 is in fact the fourth one since then, designed by the renowned architect Thomas Hardwick. The church saw major post-war renovations, with an extension of the crypt in the 1980s. However it suffered from poor accessibility and several layout compromises. As part of its 900 year celebrations, the Changing Lives project was launched to refurbish and reinvigorate the building, to ensure its continued relevance to the communities it serves.

Following completion of the initial Heritage Lottery Fund Round 1 application in 2014, we were delighted to have successfully bid with Caroe Architecture to progress this ambitious scheme through detailed design and the construction stages. The church is Grade I Listed, located in central London, in a constricted site. The project included substantial remodelling of the existing Crypt, main entrance and vestibules, and replacement of the roof. New meetings spaces, a volunteer room, flexible artwork displays and pop-up kitchen facility were provided. The entrance to the existing NHS GP practice was reconfigured, with a new reception and waiting area. A new lift and feature staircase joins the Crypt to the ground level entrance. The works were carefully sequenced to allow continued use of parts of the Church and the GP practice throughout.

Engineering services included renewal of the major M&E systems within the Crypt and entrances. Being located on Marylebone Road with heavy pollution, ventilation systems were upgraded with bespoke HEPA filters to significantly improve indoor air quality, with heat recovery to reduce energy usage. The building includes a rare example of a functioning Perkins heating system, thought to have been installed in the 19th Century. This had to be carefully modified to suit the new layout. New lighting uplifts the Crypt spaces which lack daylight, and enhance the new entrance stairs. External lighting within the Portico was renewed, including refurbishment of the original torchiere lanterns.

Images – Alan Baxter

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