Monday, July 17, 2006

New Life Out of Old

Here is a photograph showing a vibrant use of contemporary archtecture in Sporenburg Amsterdam, Holland. It has enlivened and regenerated a whole swathe of industrial islets just out of the centre of Amsterdam. Here a solution has been found through the use of exciting and rooted architecture a way forward with a place which had lost its soul.

Talking of souls I am cheered to see a similar project taking shape in London, but this project takes things one step further. It was Stephen Gardiner's article in Monday 17 July Times which alerted me to it.

The project is St Paul's Church, Onslow Square, South Kensington, London. The church is to have a contemporary extension designed by no other than Norman Foster. It is to house a family life centre, theology college, bookshop, cafe and lecture theatre. Not only is this project revealing in the obvious changes in floor plan to reflect the changing liturgy and needs of the church in the C21st; but also, it is remarkable that this brand spanking shiny new C21st space is being added to a Grade II listed building.

The 'spirit' behind Historic Buiding Legislation has moved on a pace over the last 5 years. Previously it was extremely difficult (but not impossible) to have your own century represented on a historic building (especially a church) - even though most of our churches are an organic hotch potch of most centuries.

Now with contemporary design and new materials and a developing conservation philosophy we are witnessing a new era of regeneration where architects such as Norman Foster can help re-invent an enliven our most cherished of structures.

Andy Marshall is a professional architectural photographer. Most images can be downloaded 24/7 at Alamy

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