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Greenbank Parish Church

Greenbank Parish Church

Key Facts

Client

Greenbank Parish Church

Location

Clarkston, Glasgow

Internal Floor Area

Extension - 368m2

A legacy for future generations

Project Info

Page\Park were appointed in June 2020 to deliver design proposals for Greenbank Parish Church’s legacy project. Greenbank is an active parish at the heart of the Clarkston community, and their legacy committee are making ambitious plans for the sustainable future of the church.

Their existing estate currently plays host to a plethora of community groups and activities, as well as Sunday worship and faith based activities and groups. Alongside the Category C listed church building, there are two generous halls, a lesser hall, and several smaller activity rooms. The original church building is in need of fabric upgrade, and the church halls are in a declining state of repair. the cost of upgrading the existing facilities has been established as financially unviable. A new building has was selected as the favorable option, financed by the sale of part of the existing estate.

The development marks an exciting new chapter in the history of the parish, and aims to provide contemporary and accessible community facilities for the whole of Clarkston, welcoming people with and without faith.

The proposals are currently subject to planning approval.

Heritage & Conservation

Historical Significance

Statement of significance (expanded extract from HES listing)

Greenbank Parish Church is a good example of a Gothic Revival style church built for a small parish. Although relatively modest in terms of scale, the church has some good decorative detailing throughout with a particularly good Gothic Revival interior. It is largely unaltered, apart from the 1930s additions to the chancel. The church, with its high tower, is prominent in the streetscape. The Manse is of significance, as it is a mostly unaltered and well-kept house, the oldest example located on Eaglesham Road and in this part of the town. Its sympathetic design and quality of materials contribute positively to the streetscape. The Halls (combined) are of little significance. They are of appropriate scale and rather utilitarian nature, built to satisfy the need for expanded accommodation.

Site Principles

When considering how to extend the church, we were drawn to the way that churches and cathedrals developed historically. Beside the main church, a cloister garden was often formed, around which a series of chapter houses were built. The cloister was more than a corridor or circulation space, but often the heart of the complex, sometimes with a beautiful garden at the centre.

We have conceived the building, and landscape around this principle. A series of cloisters, or courtyards is formed, each with a different purpose and atmosphere.

The series of new courtyards ultimately leads to the sanctuary, the most important space of the whole site. The church is always visible along the full central axis. It is intended that, wherever you are in the site, you can almost always see the church building.

Geometries

The first strategic move to address this was to follow the geometry of the existing manse, rather than the church. The extension and new house are rotated 6° south from the existing church, allowing us to meet the existing building in a more delicate way. This rotation informs the wider site layout, and creates a better relationship with the existing landscape and the manse building.

By pulling the extension away from the existing church, we are able to reduce the area of the listed building which we are building against. Two full height windows are retained on the south side, protecting light into the sanctuary.

The rotation of the building also creates an interesting and informal geometry internally for the cloister space, creating nooks and interesting spaces to inhabit. There are rooflights where the building meets the church, again reinforcing the idea of a delicate link to the existing building. The external entrance area is also more defined as a result creating a rectangular courtyard to the side of the manse.

Using this geometry also allows us to protect the location of the existing remembrance garden, and retain its location while enhancing its setting. A new remembrance courtyard is created, which is visible from the internal cloister space.

Placement of Volumes

There are two principal volumes in the extension; the main hall and the multipurpose space. These are represented by the two asymmetric pitched roof volumes, again referencing the idea of chapter houses beside the church building. The larger volume is placed towards the rear of the site, to minimise its impact, as it is nestled into the topography of the site. The smaller volume addresses Eaglesham Road.

All of the volumes are pulled away from the main building, in order to allow for a more delicate link to the church.

Windows on Eaglesham Road

Visibility and a sense of openness is important to the church, so we wanted to make sure that activity and life in the building was visible to passers-by on Eaglesham Road. The Multipurpose room has a large picture window, similarly scaled to the front door of the church. This will provide a clear visual connection from the street into building and offer a glimpse of what is going on inside. The glazed link between the building and the existing church will offer a view directly into the cloister space, hinting at activities taking place across the depth of the building.

Axonometric view of the scheme showing the relationship of the building to the existing church and manse building, and the creation of courtyards in the new landscape setting.
Axonometric view of the scheme showing the relationship of the building to the existing church and manse building, and the creation of courtyards in the new landscape setting.

Architectural Form

When considering the architectural language of the new building, we were struck by the need to mediate between the grand scale of the existing church, and the domestic scale of the manse, given the proximity to which we are building around it. It is important that our buildings add to this existing character, and contribute to the architectural conversation.

The manse is a handsome example of a late 19th century detached house, with references to the Arts and Crafts style. The asymmetric half timbered gable and canopy to the rear is particularly interesting, and gives a clue as to how we might create a language of roofs that deal with the changes in scale from the tall church to the domestic house.

We have developed a language of asymmetric roof pitches, we have worked with the eaves height of the existing church, and dropped down to a lower section, in alignment with, and reminiscent of, the canopied bay window of the manse building. The fenestration to Eaglesham road is intended to reflect the playful changes of scale of the windows found on the manse building, which are typical of the arts and craft style. The large window is reflects the scale of the front doors of the church, while the small corner window picks up the scale of the manse bay.

Proposed Materials

It is important that the new building sits in harmony with the existing listed building, but that it also has a clear contrast, identifiable as a new contemporary intervention.

The structure of the building will be timber. This meets the church’s sustainability agenda and greatly reduces the carbon footprint of the new building. It will also form part of the character of the interior of the building with exposed glu-lam structure forming part of the interiors palette.

We propose using a warm cream/buff brick to the most prominent walls of the extension, with cast stone reveals to framing each of the windows. This will complement the existing buff sandstone well, and is a durable and long lasting material.

It is intended that the roof and some sections of wall will be clad in coloured metal cladding. A deep red/brown tone, referencing the deep colour variation in the original building, due to the iron oxide in the stone. This is a sustainable and long lasting material that will add warmth and vibrancy to the setting. Changing with the light, it will look different throughout the day, adding a lively character to the building.

Building Plans

The building is designed around the central ‘Kitchen Cloister’ which forms the social heart of the entire scheme. This is also the key orientation space, with all spaces visible at the point of entry. Designing buildings to be intuitive, and less reliant on signage is better for people living with dementia, and reducing anxiety across various neurodivergent groups.

Sightlines to Eaglesham Road have been preserved through the layout, including a key axis from the doors of the main hall down to the large window in the multifunction space. Rooflights in the Kitchen Cloister and the Multifunction space make the church tower visible from various points, to retain a sense of connection with the church.

The kitchen is open to the space with a large fixed table at an accessible height for wheelchair users. This can be used as a servery, or as a big kitchen table for cooking demonstrations or workshops.

Creating Welcoming Interiors

The central cloister space acts as the heart of the building, with all key activity spaces feeding from it. This avoids the need for lots of blank corridors, and creates a central social space, inhabited with life. It will become the crossing point, sparking casual conversation and chance meetings. The kitchen opens into the cloister, with space for café style tables in the day time.

Consultants

Project Manager: David Allan
Structural Engineer: Clancy Consulting
M&E Engineer: Hulley & Kirkwood
Landscape Architect: rankinfraser
Cost Consultant: Hardies