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Tavistock Place multi-faith centre regenerated

Niki May Young
Monday 15 Dec 2008

Lumen multi-faith church uses architecture and art for worship by all

Tavistock Place in London is famed for its Camden Town buzz, legendary bowling aisles and its proximity to some of the city's most famous nightclubs, but on July 7 2005 the street became infamous when it became one of the locations of the London bombings. It seems appropriate then that this is also the location for Lumen, a multi-faith church encouraging people of faith to worship together as one.

The centre is to open once again in the New Year following a modernisation which has seen Theis and Khan Architects collaborate with internationally renowned artists to create a place where worship is central to everything. The original church was built on the site in 1827 but was destroyed during the bombings of World War II. Following its rebuilding in 1965 the church required a modernization to complement the changing inner-city community for the 21st century.

There are three main elements to the redesign: a café clearly visible from the streetthrough a dramatic 8m high window, a new sacred space for contemplation within themain body of the church and a new extension housing three community spaces.

Maggie Hindley, Minister, lumen comments: “We always worked with three aims: Toput worship at the centre of everything; to create a ‘shop front’ and to partner withpeople of faith and with groups working for a better city.”

Commissioned by the United Reformed Church, lumen has continued the ancienttradition of commissioning artists and craftspeople. Working with Modus Operandi artconsultants, the church has commissioned two artists to create new threedimensional art works, which are carefully integrated within the building.

Internationally acclaimed artist Alison Wilding has created a trio of artworks: a newfont, a drinking fountain and a garden fountain. The sculptures, which explore themesof living water and light, create new points of stillness and reflection within theinternal and external spaces.

The north window on the street front, features a spiralling, geometric sculpturalscreen, entitled North Elevation, by rising artist Rona Smith. Made of bronze, thesculpture is suspended within the alcove of the window, and arcs gently into the mainspace. The design evokes the traditional imagery of many religions, includingChristian, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist.

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