Location: Edinburgh

Value: £

Project Duration: 18 Months

Designer: LDN Architects

Project Brief and Description

Located at the westend of princess street, right where Lothian Road and Princess meet, stands the historical St John's Church. 

LDN Architects were task with redeveloping St John's Church so that it would accommodate the needs of various users. Here at John Dennis, we were tasked with bringing this ideology to life. 

A new, more prominent and welcoming entrance has been created to the west side of the existing Church Hall, facing Lothian Road, by relocating the stonework and central arched opening from the east gable. A new, large arched opening has been formed in the east gable, providing a direct link through to the new extension on the east side of the existing Church Hall which faces the beautiful tree-scape of the adjacent churchyards and Princes Street Gardens beyond

Internally the existing Church Hall and lower level accommodation have been reorganised and extended to create a flexible Hall space at street level, which can be separated from or combined with the adjacent new Meeting Rooms. The new Hall has its own Kitchen Servery with service lift connection to the Café Kitchen below, allowing it to cater for a variety of functions, and a direct link to the existing Dormitory Garden outside. Offices have been relocated on a new mezzanine floor level created above in the existing Church Hall with a Reception Office at street level beside the new entrance. Cafe and Retail Units have been reorganised at the lower level to create the link between the Cafe Kitchen and the Hall above. A new  stair and lift are located centrally providing an accessible link between all three levels of the development and from Princes Street down to the churchyard, allowing users to connect and interact in ways that were not previously possible.

A considerable challenge we faced was the constrained nature of the site with major road arteries on two sides and inaccessible, tiered graveyards on the other two. With John Dennis's vast knowledge of working in and around Edinburgh City we were able to adapt to these conditions, like we have many time before. Initially we liaised with the design team, client and City to establish our boundaries and from there we drafted a site access and delivery plan. With the high level of traffic that surrounded the site it was unsuitable to organise any type of road permits therefore it was concluded that we would work on a wait and load basis. To avoid any local disruption we established time frames out with peak hours where we could get our materials in and out of the site. 

Another constraint was that the Church was to remain operational throughout the project duration. We can happily say that the church remained uninterrupted use throughout the 18 month period.


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