Purcell wins St Mary Redcliffe Design Competition

Team’s crisp design strategy and approach to materials secures commission for landmark Bristol church

Stmary Winner News Image
© Richard Carman

St Mary Redcliffe announced today [June 2, 2016] that Purcell has won the St Mary Redcliffe Design Competition.

The Competition attracted a strong response and the other four award-winning finalists included leading UK practices:

  • Carmody Groarke
  • dRMM
  • Eric Parry Architects
  • Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The Reverend Dan Tyndall, Vicar of St Mary Redcliffe, said:

‘The Jury was very impressed by the finalists’ presentations, their enthusiasm and good ideas, but ultimately, Purcell demonstrated the deepest understanding of the site and context and the opportunity at St Mary Redcliffe.
‘We found their scheme to be crisp, integrated and compelling. A particular strength was the dispersal of accommodation across three locations, helping to tie the disparate northern and southern parts of Redcliffe together.’

David Hamilton, Director of Projects for competition organisers, Malcolm Reading Consultants, said:

‘We were all impressed by the quality of work that each shortlisted finalist presented to the Jury. But Purcell demonstrated that they were the best team to guide the church through the development of the design and delivery of the project.’

Dan Talkes, Senior Architect at Purcell, said:

‘Purcell is delighted to work with St Mary Redcliffe. For the church, this project represents a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity to repair the fault lines that exist in Redcliffe’s urban fabric and, in doing so, to position the church at the physical, spiritual and social heart of the city.
‘Our proposal, generated from a ‘stitch’ of interconnected buildings, re-establishes the church’s medieval enclosure and creates a new, permeable edge to the church grounds that will improve public access.’

The Grade I listed Bristol church, both a national landmark and a living church, is the equivalent of many European cathedrals and one of the largest parish churches in England. The £12-15m development project will give the church much needed visitor amenities, step-free access, and a community hub on a separate site or sites in the heart of the Redcliffe area. The initiative is linked to wider regeneration plans, placing the church at the heart of a new urban village within the city centre.

The concept design images can be viewed on the competition website.

Fifty-three practices entered the competition and of these international studios accounted for nearly twenty per cent. The competition jury included journalist, broadcaster and author Simon Jenkins; Bristol-based contemporary artist Luke Jerram, who was responsible for the Park and Slide installation which turned Bristol’s Park Street into a giant water slide; and Vicky Smith, the new city design manager for Bristol.

St Mary Redcliffe is notable for its connection with many important historical figures, including George Frederick Handel and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It has links with America through artefacts relating to John Cabot’s voyage of 1497 and Admiral Penn – the latter, the namesake of Pennsylvania, is buried within the church.

Elizabeth I described St Mary Redcliffe as ‘the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England’. The church attracts tens of thousands of visitors and tourists annually. Built, and then re- built, over a 300-year period from the early 13th century to the 15th century, the church embodies magnificence, but has always lacked sufficient community and support spaces for its vital work in one of the most deprived wards in the country.