City of Edinburgh Methodist Church
The City of Edinburgh Methodist Church
25 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9BX
A new focal point setting for the church community
The Methodist Chapel on Nicolson Square, designed by the then city architect Thomas Brown, was chosen in 2009 as the preferred choice for retention of four Methodist churches in Edinburgh. This consolidated church setting aspired to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment at the heart of the city, supported by a series of interventions to improve connections and accessibility.
In this refurbishment and extension project, the previously detached church and adjacent halls were linked as a single amenity by a glazed lift and small conservatory negotiating the different levels of the buildings. The café has been relocated to the ground floor of the hall, which benefits from level access and creates an accessible entrance sequence. At the upper level, a new mezzanine was inserted within the hall, creating a common top floor level between buildings. In the church, an enlarged entrance vestibule and new half staircase provide pedestrian and visual connection between buildings. In the sanctuary, the pews have been removed and the floor levelled to create an accessible space. At gallery level, vertical planes have been inserted into the raked seating to create a series of new display spaces.
The project was essentially conceived as a series of interventions within different historic settings inside the building.
The project included a comprehensive overhaul of the existing building services with new energy efficient boilers and lighting provided throughout, low water consumption sanitary fittings were installed along with underfloor heating in the café, extension and large sanctuary volume where it is desirable to focus heat distribution at low level. A purpose designed AV system has been installed which allows connection of AV equipment in all areas, and church services or other sanctuary events to be broadcast throughout the building.
Until recently Nicolson Square had been one of four Methodist churches in Edinburgh. In 2009 the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church (CEMC) commissioned Page\Park Architects to carry out a study of their existing assets with a view to rationalising and creating new accommodation to serve one single congregation, either by reconfiguring an existing church or development of a new building which would reflect the twenty-first century needs of the Methodist Church. Nicolson Square was recommended as the locus for CEMC as it is located in the heart of Edinburgh Old Town and its architectural and liturgical significance placed it well to provide a home for the united congregations. The church aspires to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment at the heart of the city, and through the briefing process, a series of interventions were identified to improve connections between premises and accessibility. The recommendation was subsequently accepted, and Nicolson Square was set to become the new home for CEMC.
The material palette was high quality and restrained, consisting of limed oak, slate, terrazzo, zinc, limestone and glass. The materials adapt in tone and quantity to respond to their differing situations, but are linked together in a common language of ‘frame and panel’.