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St Martin-in-the-Fields wins Europa Nostra Award

Eric Parry Architects’ renewal of St-Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London is one of only two UK projects to be awarded a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award it was announced on Thursday, 1st April.

This unique awards programme highlights some of Europe’s best achievements, and showcases remarkable efforts made in safeguarding Europe’s rich architectural, landscape, archaeological and artistic heritage. The 2010 winners have been selected from nearly 140 submitted projects, stemming from 26 countries. The selection of Laureates is made by one of the four Heritage Awards Juries, composed of independent experts from across Europe.

New public spaces lie at the heart of the scheme: a widened Church Path includes a glazed entrance pavilion providing access to a new foyer below ground and the reconfigured café in the crypt, as well as community meeting rooms, a small chapel and the Chinese Community Centre. The form of the pavilion is inverted at the eastern end of Church Path where a light-well brings daylight deep into the below-ground spaces. The churchyard has also been reconfigured, providing a place for contemplation and reflection.

A Nash-designed terrace to the north of the Church has been refurbished to provide modern, purpose-built accommodation. The Connection now has flexible spaces in which to undertake its social care work, a day centre, night centre, medical facilities, café and rooms for counselling and workshops, reflecting St Martin’s ethos as the ‘church with the ever open door’. On the first and second floors of the adjacent vestry, a new extension links to the clergy offices and the site management team.

The conservation works to the church have removed later Victorian additions and returned the interior to its 18th-century glory. Clear hand-made glass has replaced the translucent glazing, allowing natural light once again to flood into the interior space. A new East window, designed by Shirazeh Houshiary with Pip Horne, has replaced the window installed following World War II bomb damage. The church’s elaborate decorative plasterwork has been restored; in addition, the pulpit has been relocated close to its original position, improving sightlines for congregation and audiences and the chancel reordered to allow greater flexibility for worship and concerts. The exterior has been completely restored and cleaned.

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