Simon Court

A timber mezzanine and staircase inserted into a converted church

The transformation of a previously awkward flat at the top of a Victorian church.

Part of a lazy ’80s conversion of a church in Queens Park , the flat was one of only a handful that had retained any original features; the tops of three large arched stained glass windows and the impressive curved roof of the apse itself. However the flat was cramped and the spaces uncomfortable, with no real respect shown to the original fabric of the building.

The challenge was to create a harmonious relationship between new and old, while resolving the practical difficulties of the unusual space. The central design idea was to re-arrange the existing mezzanine with two void spaces and a new half-spiral timber staircase, winding up under the curved beams of the apse.

The mezzanine, staircase and other joinery elements are all constructed from knotless Radiata pine, with the staircase constructed from a CNC cut kit of parts. This economical material was lightly whitened with oil, and provides a counterpoint to the red bricks and darker timber of the church.

The existing building also required careful restoration. The roof structure was covered with layers of dark brown varnish, and was sandblasted to reveal the charm of the original timber. Some careful work was carried out to disguise damaged brickwork and stone features by an artist who was able to recreate brickwork details which would have been impossible to repair. This fakery is now invisible and the church has reclaimed some of its former glory.

The projected featured on Dwell and was part of Open House 2017.

I can't stress enough how lucky I was to have Sam. He had some inspirational ideas but also stayed rooted in practical considerations and continually stayed in touch with what I wanted. He had a professional team of contractors whose work was outstanding but he also remained in constant touch with them and his high standards set the tone for the entire project. I was thrilled with his ideas and the final look of the flat; I would never have thought of his ideas myself and he was reassuring and easy to deal with. Nothing was too much trouble.


Grand Designs Magazine