The new Bethnal Green Mission Church is located at the heart of the Bethnal Green Gardens conservation area, amongst neighbours such as John Soane’s St. John on Bethnal Green and the V&A Museum of Childhood. It represents Gatti Routh Rhodes’ ongoing interest in how to best leverage limited resources to create buildings imbued both with a deep sense of community and a rich materiality.
Completed in late 2018, the building includes a double height church, two community halls, a café, a foodbank and community kitchen as well as a vicarage and offices. The northern end of the adjacent Grade 2 listed park has been redesigned as part of the scheme, rejuvenating previously unloved public realm with the community spaces overlooking and spilling out into the gardens. Key worker and private residential accommodation (the sale of which provides finance for the scheme) is sited above, served by a separate entrance and circulation.
The pale brick facade, laid in a distinctive raking monk bond, is framed by precast light concrete elements. The gates and the stained glass (developed by GRR in collaboration with artist Coralie Bickford-Smith) express the building’s civic use and pick up on the exposed concrete coffers spanning the church space, which themselves reference the tradition of vaulted church ceilings.
The new facilities will enable the church (directly and in partnership with others) to continue its tradition of serving the community, in particular, the foodbank store will support that organisation, and the community kitchen and showers will facilitate the ongoing delivery of a night shelter for the homeless. This diverse range of activities was made possible on a compact site by creating tightly planned overlapping flexible spaces, and by a set of sectional relationships that effectively balance generosity, height and light with more intimate, compact spaces.
Material Used :
1. Weineberger – facing brick - Waterstruck Wheat PT445
2. Ideal Combi - Windows - Futura + i range
3. Sto - Acoustic render (chuch) - Stosilent
4. Bembe - Timber flooring (church) - End grain Parquet
5. Mosa - Porcelain tiles (apartment floors) - Greys range
6. Dorma – Moving wall (community space) - Moveo
7. Vitsoe – Shelving (café/offices) – 606 Universal shelving system
8. Saneux – Sanitary and Brasswear – Various ranges
9. Minster Stone – precast concrete facade elements