Eric Parry Architects completes the renovation of Grade II* listed St John’s Waterloo

Eric Parry Architects has completed the £5.5 million restoration and renovation of the Grade II* listed St John’s Church in Waterloo. The improvements to the church will safeguard it as a place for worship and spiritual enrichment, delivering upgrades to its facilities that help it meet its ambition to play a leading role in the social, cultural and spiritual life of Waterloo and the wider city of London.

The project has preserved both the 19th century architecture of Francis Bedford, and 20th century interventions made when the church was restored following wartime bombing and rededicated as the official church of the Festival of Britain under the direction of T.F. Ford. St John’s historically significant altar paintings, by the German-Jewish refugee Hans Feibusch, have been saved by expert conservation and the improved conditions in the nave will support their ongoing preservation.

The church entrance has been remodelled, making the nave immediately visible from the street and improving accessibility. A single doorway for all users emphasises an equal and inclusive welcome for all. The installation of a lift makes the crypt fully accessible for the first time.

The vast, open nave has become a much-enhanced worship, event and performance space, with a historically referenced paint scheme. The bold insertion of side panels serves to achieve focus on the sanctuary, setting off the restored Feibusch murals. The panels also provide a new baptistery with the re-sited 1824 font, and a new prayer chapel. In addition they frame a stage for performances and provide a storage solution. Solid oak sanctuary furniture commissioned from specialist ecclesiastical furniture maker Luke Hughes is a centrepiece of the new scheme.

In the crypt, Eric Parry Architects has cleared away temporary modifications from the last 40 years to create a variety of new spaces for community use and hire. In doing so, they have revealed the beauty of the brick vaults and cleaned and restored a long, vaulted chamber known as the Old Crypt. The crypt will provide a home for St John’s charity The Bridge at Waterloo, from which it will continue to develop its projects for people affected by homelessness and employment training for young people.

The project takes major steps to move St John’s towards the Church of England’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Solar energy use has been integrated into design from the outset, with a major installation of 80 solar panels covering almost all the south-facing roof, with the capacity to generate a potential 30 kWh in bright sunshine.

Revd Canon Giles Goddard, Vicar of St John’s, said:

“The renovation of St John’s has been a huge and challenging project seen through with hard work and the utmost dedication of all involved. So it’s thrilling to feel the building coming to life as we reopen. The congregation and the local community are already taking the new St John’s to their hearts as they discover how much more accessible, inspiring and welcoming the spaces are. And we’re seeing the enormous power the church now has to bring people together – in many and sometimes unexpected ways.

“St John’s has served this special part of London since 1824. We were bombed in the war and rebuilt to serve a different Britain in 1951. Once again restored and transformed, we can be here to meet the needs of the diverse communities around us and to play our part in the city for another 200 years.”

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