The Frank Elliott
Transforming St Olave’s for the 21st Century
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Design Ideas Competition
to select an Architectural Practice
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St Olave’s is a beautiful, ancient church in the centre of York and a thriving Anglican parish community. We hold regular services of worship in the Anglo-Catholic tradition with a strong heritage of choral music, a commitment to holiness and hospitality and a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all ages.
We wish to appoint an outstanding practice with vision, technical skill and passion to join us in our ambition to deliver a very special new building to enrich the existing fabric of the church and to add to York’s superb ecclesiastical built heritage and historic townscape.
The church plays an important role in the wider life of the city as a popular venue for weddings and christenings, for choral and orchestral performances, and because of its prominent position as part of the ancient walls adjoining St Mary’s Abbey and overlooking the gates leading to Museum Gardens from Marygate.
We are only talking to four firms. We have approached you because we admire your work, because you are local and because we feel you have what it takes to combine the best of contemporary design and conservation practice.
The church has been left a substantial bequest by a former parishioner, Frank Elliott. Though Frank left no specific instruction, the PCC and wider congregation intend to use this bequest – supplemented by additional funding raised from other sources – to undertake substantial additions and alterations to the fabric and spatial resources of the church in order to meet identified practical current needs, strengthen existing activities and amenities, extend our reach and work further and enable new activities to take root, grow and flourish. We believe the site and the building are worthy of – indeed demand – an ambitious, dignified and distinctive piece of new architecture.This is a rare, once-in-a-generation opportunity to create an addition to St Olave’s of exceptional quality which will add to both the beauty and useability of the wonderful building handed down to us from the past – for the benefit of present and future generations, and for the glory of God.
The intention of the limited competition is to allow us to get to know you better within a defined framework, and to allow you to show us the quality of your work, thinking and passion. This Brief provides you with some guidance and further information. You will see, as you read on, that some elements of the client brief remain fluid at this point and capable of being shaped by the ideas which emerge from this competition process. Therefore we will not be looking narrowly to select a ‘winning scheme’ fully resolved for immediate implementation, but rather a team, an approach, a way of thinking, a set of ideas and inspiration and a set of individuals with whom we feel we can work on this journey. We would like to invite you to undertake a short design study and submit your conceptual vision and ideas to us in York by Monday 17th March 2014. These materials will be put on display at St Olaves, and then on Saturday 5th of April you’ll be called to present your ideas followed by questions and discussion with a selection panel comprising members of the congregation and key stakeholders. The winner will be appointed to work up their vision in more detail together with a small steering group from the congregation, and thereafter to move through the various stages of wider consultation, statutory and regulatory consents towards tendering and construction.
St Olave’s is the dominant building on Marygate, a street sloping down from Bootham to the river. The south side of the street, where the church stands, is bounded on most of its length by the fortified walls of St Mary’s Abbey built, like the church, in magnesium limestone and dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. The church, consisting of tower, nave and chancel in 15th century perpendicular style, is separated from the street by a brick wall and 19th century railings. Monastic ruins adjoin the church both on the east and weSt The north side of the street consists of a mixture of largely terraced domestic and commercial buildings mainly from the 18th to 20th centuries.
The abbey ruins are probably the most significant of any medieval city monastery in western Europe. They stand within the Museum Gardens, which contains other remains of the Roman and medieval periods and the Yorkshire Museum, and are a popular tourist location. To the north-east of the churchyard, and separated from it by a bowling green and abbey ruins, lies King’s Manor, substantially 15th to 17th century in date. Largely screened by trees and the abbey ruins, the glimpses of the church from the gardens make an important contribution to the scene.
! The chief significance of the church setting, however, is to the south, where there is a churchyard with a number of mature trees and graves of 18th and 19th century date, including the listed tomb of William Etty RA (d 1849). The southern boundary is formed by the north aisle of the abbey church, much of which still remains and dates from the late 13th century.
The importance of St Olave’s Church and its setting is recognised by the statutory protection afforded to it. The church itself is listed as Grade I, some of the adjoining structures are a scheduled ancient monument, many of the buildings in its vicinity are listed at either grade I or II, and it is sited within a park in the register of Historic Parks and Gardens at grade II. It is within York’s central conservation area. Though the Church is at the edge of the much-used Museum Gardens, it is surprisingly not very visible from the gardens.The current arrangements do not sufficiently draw people in from them (the 'non-churched' as much as the already 'churched'). There are a number of other development schemes taking place in the area, including major renovations to the York Musuem Trust Art Gallery and the Museum Gardens, which includes proposals to open to the public more of the gardens area adjacent to St Olave’s.
The church was founded before 1055. Granted to Benedictine monks after the Norman Conquest, it lay in the shadow of one of the greatest abbeys of medieval England and was rebuilt as a parish church in the 1460s. It formed part of the defences of the city in the siege during the English Civil War, was repaired in the early 18th century, and extended at the east end in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. What you see today is largely 15th century in style, although the south wall of the church was remodelled in the early 18th century when it ceased to form part of the city defences and the east end was extended a little more than a century ago. For further info see the Appendices which include a booklet on the history of St Olave’s, the formal Statement of Architectural Significance, John Thorp spatial analysis, base plans, drawings and photos.
About St Olave’s -
the parish community
Since 2010 the churches of All Saints Pavement, St Denys, St Helen, St Martin and St Olave have been working together under a Priest-in-Charge who now also covers Holy Trinity Micklegate. The 6 churches offer a variety of worship through different services in our churches with the hospitality of the Eucharist at the heart of everything we do. Each of the group has a distinctive character. The life of St Olave's is centred on the Sunday sung eucharist, with a liberal catholic focus in liturgy and belief. St Olave's seeks to be inclusive, within a formal style of worship in the mainstream tradition of the Church of England with a strong choral emphasis at the main Sunday service, we seek to reach out to all ages and there is a strong commitment to work with children and young people. The Eucharist is at the heart of our life as a community at St Olave, holding us together in our diversity. Our worship is formal, with an emphasis on ritual that is performed carefully but with a lightness of touch, creating time for reflection and allowing a sense of God’s presence. It is an intentionally inclusive form of worship that creates the space for us to be ourselves and yet simultaneously part of a greater whole. There is an emphasis on the ministry of the word and sacraments as well as music.
Our distinctive contribution to the City Centre Churches comes from the strength and richness of our existing diversity offering an opportunity for further trust, learning and service to develop. Our mission is to bring Christ into the world as an expression of his love. It arises from the power of the Eucharist to change us and to transform what we are called to do in our everyday lives. Thus we wish to look outward and to focus on the world. Our Anglo-Catholic tradition is reflected in the use of vestments and incense and a full team of servers within the context of traditional ceremonial. Central to the life of the church is the Sunday 10.30am Sung Eucharist, which attracts an average congregation of 110 with a Sunday School of around 20 young people. Christian Hospitality is being used as a means to grow our churches across the City Centre, and St Olaves is specifically charged with: Building on family life in every sense of the word and encouraging marriage. All churches across the City Centre group are charged with: Becoming known for high standards of Christian Hospitality to further the Kingdom of God and to grow our churches. We are keen to ensure that everyone who uses our churches and halls knows that they are in a space where a warm welcome, friendship and hospitality are very important. By saying yes to individuals and groups who ask for a venue for a service or event, we will be good neighbours in our community and across the city centre. !5
About Frank Elliott
Frank was full of love for others. He had a joyful sense of humour, he was patient, kind and generous. He was faithful and committed to what he held dear. He was gentle and yet firm, and always calm, rational and composed. But those are only some of the qualities he possessed in his full life, and from which his family, friends and acquaintances greatly benefited. Frank's roots were in the North East. His professional life, nursing in Leeds and Leicester, and then in the probation service in the East Riding, can be summed up in one word: service. He saw his role as helping and serving others. He was always friendly and gentle, But he was not afraid to stand up for what he believed to be right. As a probation officer he often had to attend court and spoke of a number of occasions when he challenged the magistrate or judge in order to protect the best interests of the person in his care. Many people were helped by Frank's wise advice. And he had an easy facility with words. He had the gift of always knowing exactly the right thing to say in any situation, often with his amusing and yet trenchant wit. About thirty years ago Frank took early retirement and moved to York. He soon found his way to St Olave's. Until recent years when he was prevented by incapacity from attending services regularly he was a faithful member and true friend of St Olave's. His ministry of welcome was legendary and an example to us all. He always looked out specially for new faces. If people did not appear to be familiar with the service he would sit with them and help them through it. Frank knew the importance of offering a sincere and warm welcome to those who come through our doors. But Frank went beyond that. He took every opportunity to tell people about St Olave's and to encourage them to attend a service or a concert here. He was a true advocate of our church. He may not have used the word but he exercised a very practical form of mission. Frank was equally known for his hospitality. He frequently invited people to meals at his bungalow. You never went away hungry or thirsty when you visited Frank.
Frank's life was underpinned by a deep faith. He had a strong commitment to the Church, but he was not uncritical. But above all he had a great love of people. He had a genuine interest in and concern for individuals. He was open and natural. He put people at their ease. He was not one for airs and graces or pomposity.
One of the great loves of his life was music. Before he moved to York he was organist at the church in Skidby where he lived. Music brought him real joy and he was always highly supportive of the music and choir at St Olave's.
Frank was indeed a true example of the Christian life, he touched and enriched the lives of a great many people.
About the client body
The client body ultimately is the whole parish community of St Olave’s – the clergy and congregation. Technically speaking the commissioning body is the PCC (Parochial Church Council), the executive body of the church. However, in practice a small Steering Group has been established to advise, oversee and steer the project on behalf of the PCC and wider congregation and to act as the key client body. The group includes some members with professional client design and construction backgrounds as well as representatives for some of the activities within the church most directly linked to the project, such as music and the Sunday School and the church treasurer.
What we’d like –
the client brief
The brief has been generated partly from individuals with specific roles and responsibilities within the church – the Director of Music, the Youth Coordinator, the sides-people and clergy for example – and partly through a wider process of ideasgathering and consultation with the broader congregation. This process inevitably threw up a whole range of suggestions which have been reviewed, sifted and distilled by the steering group. From this, we have identified below a number of must-have items and issues which the project must provide for and resolve as part of the core brief. Beyond this are a number of other desirable or nice-to-have elements and ideas. We would be delighted to see as many of these as possible implemented and pursued as part of this project should the opportunities present themselves. We have no preconceptions about precisely how – spatially and architecturally – the winning team and proposal will meet the core brief and we expect that different architectural solutions and spatial approaches will offer different opportunities to meet our key goals and hopes in various different ways, and that certain possibilities will naturally flow from particular decisions about how to structure the space. We know we cannot have everything but equally we don’t want to rule anything out at this stage which may turn out to be easily and cost-effectively deliverable. We very much look forward to seeing and understanding how your designs and ideas can unlock possibilities and balance the various identified needs and aspirations.
The PCC recently appointed Inspecting Architect – Chris Cotton of Purcell’s, who will be central to the project - providing expert scrutiny and advice, ‘checks and balances’ and a long-term perspective on the future wellbeing of the church’s fabric.
It is in this sense then that the brief remains fluid and capable of being shaped by the design ideas and responses which you bring to this process, and it will be refined and resolved more definitively in dialogue with the design team as the project moves forward.
Purcell’s will not be acting as the client in this case - but should be understood as part of the Client’s team charged with ensuring the success of this project.
Some guiding principles and common themes
We want this project to be conceived as a holistic solution (not simply a tick-list of individual desirables) and to enhance user-friendliness, hospitality and outreach, accessibility and inclusion, visibility. The goal should be a vibrant, outward-looking Church, with a worshipful environment, and also a 'buzz', where people of all ages feel at home and want to be, in dialogue with other York churches and the wider community, in constant use - 7 days a week throughout the year. We want to use this as an opportunity to transform/enhance/shape the way we open our doors and turn our face to the outside world, the nature of the welcome our church gives to all visitors (regular, occasional, casual, tourists, musicians and other users), the ‘threshold moment’ and our presence/visibility in the wider community. These themes would resonate with Frank Elliott and are a fitting tribute. At the core of everything should be the commitment to worship and Christian witness.
The core brief
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Fully accessible entry – either through remastering the existing main north door on Marygate or through another entry point
Sunday School space (up to circa 45sqm) possibly with the capacity to subdivide into at least two separate spaces for older children and a creche for the tiny ones – soundproofed from main church
Choir rehearsal space – circa 45sqm, preferably square in proportion – soundproofed from main church, with space for a small grand piano
storage facilities for choir library and choir robes (25 linear metres of shelving, 40 choir robes) – need not be together
storage for Sunday School equipment (including toys / arts and craft supplies / small folding tables and chairs / musical instruments etc)
storage for the ‘Holy Dusters’ (cleaner’s cupboard)
small kitchen, with cooking facilities if possible – for end-of-service hospitality, occasional Sunday School use, use by concert organisers (but see also first ‘Nice-to-have’ bullet)
warm fully accessible toilet facilities (poss more than one - 1male, 1 female) – prosaic but important, current arrangements woeful
maintain access to boiler room, and to tower for bell ringers
preserve the special atmosphere and qualities of the existing main church space
generally through the redeployment of existing spaces and the addition of new ones, to enhance the sense of openness, welcome, accessibility and visibility to the wider York community, to tourists and visitors, believers and non- alike
be cognisant of, respond to and make the most of the new opportunities afforded by the works to the churchyard and south door
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a café space open during daytime hours – for church users, the wider York public, visitors and tourists
potentially for the café space to have a terrace overlooking/opening onto Museum Gardens and entrance directly to/from the gardens
Consider improvements to wheelchair and other accessibility issues within the church itself (eg selective pew removal etc or other solutions)
Consider replacement of existing pews for greater comfort and to allow greater flexibility of configuration of main space both for worship and performance uses
For the choir and / or Sunday School space(s) to be adaptable enough for social events and for use and private hire by community and other local groups and classes (e.g. Yoga or Song Box).
Display areas for notices and for Sunday School and other artwork
Comfortable seating area
A library – this was developed further with the idea of having a book swapping facility, possibly with an honesty box for donations.
Possibly a centre for “disadvantaged”, unemployed – possibly with – eg: performing arts classes for them
Weekday activities for older people
Space for an Emmaus group
Regular slot for a parish nurse to hold basic surgery.
How far can we go?
We are interested in exploring options both within the existing built envelope and considering building outwards or upwards. The project is likely, in the view of the Group, to involve both the reorganisation of existing space and building outwards/upwards. What makes St Olave's special must be retained. Beyond this, in our view anything is for discussion. Among the options that the steering group have contemplated are in no particular order: •
Reconfiguring the St Giles Room and combining with space above and in the enclosed yard to the south west of the church tower
Relocating the organ and choir, reordering the east-end vestry and chancel
Adapting, reshaping and extending 29 Marygate (a stand-alone dwelling owned by the church) – potentially connecting to the north east of main church
Any proposed changes – radical or otherwise – will rightly be subject to intense scrutiny and questioning by the regulatory authorities including first and foremost the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) – the ecclesiastical equivalent of a planning authority to whom we will eventually apply for a consent or ‘faculty’ in church jargon – as well as conservation and local amenity and interest groups including English Heritage, York City Council, York Civic Trust, York Museums Trust and other. However we believe nothing should be off limits at this point - we are fully openminded about what will be the best solution and want to hear your best ideas. We are looking for ideas that start from a position of respect and admiration for the existing building and its setting, and results in major improvements in functionality, looks and technical performance. It is intended that there will be in the region of £750,000 available to cover all costs (without exception) of this project.
A number of different buildings and structures from earlier periods have been attached to the church and then disappeared, particular at the southwest end. These can be seen in historic paintings, drawings and prints and may offer potential clues to new forms. Designs could respond to the recent churchyard works and the re-commissioning of the south door. There is scope to consider the idea that the Sunday School space and choir space could be one and the same. Designs should consider the relation of the church to Museum Gardens, to Marygate, and to St Mary’s Lodge. John Thorp (former City Architect for Leeds City Council) carried out a spacial; and historic analysis of the church - his findings can be found in the appendices.
Historic sensitivity and contemporary design
The calibre and preciousness of the existing fabric and the sensitive historic townscape setting naturally need to be met with a sophisticated, respectful and sensitive response. We do not feel however that this means the new work need be apologetically pastiche or pallidly conservationist in approach – indeed the reverse is true. The quality of the old, we feel, deserves to be matched by new solutions of equal excellence and distinctiveness of our own time. We would be proud if future generations could look back at this work and see it as exemplary of our time, and observe that we have added something of genuine quality to the richly layered history and life of this ancient sacred space. Above all we are committed to delivering a space or set of spaces of the highest quality, and which are physically and spiritually sensitive to the church. All work needs to be made in full mindfulness of the extraordinary, special space we already have the privilege to use and worship in and of the fact that whatever new work we undertake should enhance not detract from that.
Other professional team members
Other members of the professional team will be appointed separately following selection of the architects. We welcome any recommendations you may have regarding engineering consultants and other professionals you work well with, although of course reserve the right to make our own appointments.
Scope of design study and presentation
At the end of the initial design study, the key thing we will be looking to evaluate is the conceptual strength and vision of your proposal, how intuitively you have responded to our list of essentials and desirables and the promise your concept scheme shows for further development. We will also be seeking to gauge how well we think we could work together as client and design team. At the same time we will also have more than half an eye on the practicalities, likely cost implications and deliverability of your ideas. Please set out an initial summary of your ideas on 2no A0 boards. We will display these at the back of the church, not for decision-making but for general feedback, sharing of responses and thoughts from parishioners and visitors regarding your designs. Please make arrangements to get the boards to Ben Pugh (details below) by 5pm on Monday 17th March 2014. Please also email a digital file of the boards or submit on disk by the same deadline. We would then ask you to come and present in person in York on 5th of April to our selection panel, followed by discussion and questions. You will be welcome to bring a powerpoint or pdf document to elaborate and expand on the material presented on the summary boards.
Viewing the building
The main church is open daily, 10am to 5pm and can be visited freely during these times. Design teams are also very welcome and indeed encouraged to attend a Sunday morning service to get a feel for the character of the church when in use, for the nature of our worship and welcome, and the congregation. In addition, we will arrange an appointment for you to look around the other facilities and spaces of the church and churchyard which are not normally accessible during ordinary visiting hours.
Brief issued to four practices – early Feb 2014
Site visit and building viewing – by appointment during February 2014
Deadline for design submissions – 17 March 2014, 5pm
Presentations/interviews – 4 or 5 April 2014, venue tbc, York
Selection – 10 April 2014
Honorarium and winner’s fee
An honorarium of £1,500 (all inclusive) will be paid to all four practices towards the costs of preparing the design study. The winning practice will receive a further £1,500. Thereafter, fees to take forward the scheme to an initial feasibility study and beyond will be agreed separately.
Any questions should be addressed to:
! Ben Pugh Project Manager on behalf of Frank Elliott Legacy Steering Group
! 07970 950552 [email protected]