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 aspires 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 £2.2m refurbishment and extension project, the previously detached church and adjacent halls are linked as a single amenity by a glazed lift and small conservatory negotiating the different levels of the buildings. The café is 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 is 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 is essentially conceived as a series of interventions within different historic settings inside the building. The material palette is high quality, simple and limited – 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’.