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Bishopbriggs church spreads its wings following £1.25m refurbishment

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June 14 2021

Bishopbriggs church spreads its wings following £1.25m refurbishment

Page\Park Architects have completed a £1.25m refurbishment of a C-listed Bishopbriggs church, originally designed by Gillespie Kidd & Coia.

Working with St Matthew's Parish Church for over 5 years the practice has worked to open up space and make it more accessible while working with craftsmen to design bespoke furniture and altarpiece. Originally built during the immediate aftermath of World War 2 in 1947-8, the modest church made use of salvaged roof timbers, resulting in an unusually narrow plan which contributed to longstanding operational problems.

This has been alleviated with the creation of a new side aisle which also increases the amount of light into the sanctuary via a prominent lantern window. Improvements extend to the church grounds which incorporate a pre-cast tiered seating area with planters and new entrance signage with inlaid gold text. The external terrace along the south side of the building serves as a gathering space in anticipation of future town centre public realm works.

In a press statement, the practice wrote: "The utilitarian design of the existing building benefited our contemporary reworking, and we were able to create an extension that was confident and fresh, complementing the original building without requiring to shy away, or exist in deference. A complete internal refurbishment was carried out, including replacing the damaged flooring with a new ceramic tile with a white strip highlighting the processional route to the altar. The material palette is intentionally restrained and elemental, with the warm tone of the timber giving relief to the new elemental concrete forms.

"Page\Park also designed a series of new pre-cast altar furniture, including the altar itself, lectern, presider’s chair, and font. The parish agreed to commission a ceramic artist, James Rigler, to design and construct a new tabernacle and sanctuary light in collaboration with Page\Park. The tabernacle is constructed from slipcast Jesmonite and gold leaf, with a polished brass inner lining. The form and external pattern capture the spirit of the original church building, with inlaid pattern used to reference the symbolism of holy communion."

St Matthew's Church has been nominated for a Scottish Design Award for building re-use. 

A side extension affords ample access and light
A side extension affords ample access and light
Built during a period of labour shortages priests lent a hand laying the original brickwork
Built during a period of labour shortages priests lent a hand laying the original brickwork

Lantern windows draw copious light into the sanctuary
Lantern windows draw copious light into the sanctuary
The golden Tabernacle and sanctuary light was designed in collaboration with ceramic artist James Rigler
The golden Tabernacle and sanctuary light was designed in collaboration with ceramic artist James Rigler

2 Comments

Alex
#1 Posted by Alex on 15 Jun 2021 at 10:23 AM
A successful extension with subtle materials and detailing, crucially widening the narrow nave. My main reservation is the use of etched glass over the whole surface of the four large windows, rather than providing select areas of clear glazing. This could be seen to make the south frontage more blank than it needed to be and separates and hides the activity of the church services and passers by from each other. Ideally some areas of clear glass would have created a more inviting church for the general public and allowed the congregation to look out a little more into the community it is part of. I note that the last picture appears to be the entrance porch and font by the west entrance, rather than a sanctuary (with its ceramic work) normally located in the east end of a church building - could you please add another photo? I like the use of a brickwork of same size and texture of bricks but different colour to show the different stages of development of the building and the light interior cloister like space which opens up the nave. Overall the architects have created an asset for St Matthew's RC congregation and the general public in Bishopbriggs.
UR
#2 Posted by UR on 15 Jun 2021 at 11:17 AM
Hi Alex. I've linked back to the main building entry.
https://www.urbanrealm.com/buildings/1622/St_Matthew%27s_Parish_Church.html

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