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Sir John Soane’s Holy Trinity. Now One Marylebone

This important church, Holy Trinity, by Sir John Soane, listed Grade I, was declared redundant in 1956 when it became the headquarters of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge; Penguin Books started life in the crypt in the twenties. An important landmark, it is set on an island site near Regent’s Park and is in sound condition.

However the interior was long ago partitioned-up for retail and ancillary office and storage uses and needs to find a future capable of enjoying its original spatial splendour. The crypt in particular is dramatic and deserves to be enjoyed. An interesting retail concept for its future use is explained below.

Despite early support from the Georgian Group and the St Marylebone Society and local residents, resistance to the reinterpretation of Soane’s idea of a pavilion on the roof led to the withdrawal of the scheme described fully below. Westminster has granted listed building consents and planning permissions which allow trial use of the building as a functions, conference and events centre which has proved to be successful. Many improvements have also been allowed and undertaken.

New applications were made in July 2009 following consultations with English Heritage and Westminster. These are described and illustrated here. Our full written submission may be downloaded as a pdf file: click here.

Full planning and Listed Building consents were granted in November 2010. These amend the 2009 application by adding a new entrance for the members’club in the crypt. This is at the level of the proposed mezzanine and is served by a new internal lift at the NW corner which provides wheelcahir access to all floors.

Applicant: Hammer Holdings Ltd
Architect: The Boisot Waters Cohen Partnership
(Brian Waters & Donald Needham)
Structure: Proposals: Michael Chester & Associates; History: Alan Baxter Associates
Conservation plan and impact assessment: The Architectural History Practice (Andrew Derrick)
Historic Fabric: Wilson Stephens Associates (Bob Wilson)
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PERMITTED SCHEME
This is as the 2009 proposal [see below] apart from the access arrangements illustrated here:A stone faced ramp runs along the eastern side down to a new doorway at the crypt mezzanine level which will give wheelchair access to the building using the new mezzanine and a new lift inserted in the NW corner. It also will provide a discrete entrance to the private members’ club for the creative industries to be housed in the crypt with a bar on the central axis and carrels dedicated to artists and galleries.

Showing the inserted mezzanine and a bar on the central N-S axis of the crypt. Bays will be dedicated to artists and/or galleries.


Showing the blockwork walls into the nave removed and openings glazed


Showing the block walls removed at nave and gallery levels

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2009 PROPOSALS.

DESCRIPTION OF DEVELOPMENT
The application is for:
Mixed use comprising functions within Class D1 and/or retail throughout and
the option of a members’ club in the crypt with café and flower/plant sales
including external pavilions and furniture in the forecourt. Works to include
mezzanine in basement, external access and lift, landscaping and roof terrace.
The retail uses to be restricted to fine art, fashion, furnishing and luxury
goods; the members’ club to be membership by invitation only for people
involved with fine art and fashion and similar. A flexible permission under
Class E of the GPDO.

The building is now Grade I Listed.
The proposal has changed somewhat since the previous scheme in 2007.
There has been an approved temporary use for the last two years for functions for a large part of the building and this has informed the now intended permanent use :  for functions and art related exhibitions and sales.
The plans and sections are colour keyed as to the eras of the fabric – Soane’s original, Victorian alterations, 1950’s alterations, and recent alterations with listed building approvals from time to time by George Hammer, our client. The proposed alterations which require future permission are coloured in green.

The proposal can be summarised as follows:
1. Ground Floor
Removing much of the 1950’s work – which allows the intended use – and most of which has already taken place.
2. Gallery
Again substantially removing the 1950’s interventions: opening up much of the infilling to the naos/side gallery arches, revealing all Soane’s original ceilings, and revealing the second great arch which until recently was concealed by suspended ceilings. We propose to glaze the opened-up side arches with frameless structural glazing. The total effect, we believe should go a long way to restoring the original sense of space and light.
3. Crypt
As you know, the crypt is much deeper than is usual – engineer’s research at the Soane Museum revealed that this was because poor ground conditions were discovered during construction – forcing excavations to go deeper.  We want to retain the scale in the central area, under the naos, but use the opportunity that the height allows to introduce a mezzanine in the perimeter. A raised floor is proposed in the central area to allow access across the reverse arches which surround it, but by introducing structural glass ‘slots’ along this edge, visibility of these dramatic arches can be maintained, and giving the opportunity for uplighting.
4. Roof level
The 2007 scheme proposed a restaurant at roof level, which in shape was somewhat similar to some of Soane’s earlier ideas for a clerestorey above the naos. While the Georgian Group were quite warm to the principle, there was much opposition from elsewhere, and the proposal has now been dropped.
A less ambitious scheme is still to provide public access to the side roofs – becoming terraces to exhibit small items of sculpture/external artwork.
The last quinquennial report stated that the lead covering to these side flat roofs was near the end of its life, with a £1 million repair needed. The problem, we understand though, is that the thickness is no longer available , and to detail properly with modern lead would involve changing the stepped joint spacing – requiring substantial replacement of supporting structure, which is probably otherwise satisfactory. Our thinking is therefore to leave the roof in place and build another deck over which has the dual function of protecting and insulating the existing roof from the elements and establishing some utility/ added value from the expenditure. We have worked out a system where this hardwood decking is liftable in panels to allow inspection of the lead roof below when necessary. It is a little complex – having to be structured to avoid loading the aisle colonnades and has to drain the central pitched roof, but our detailed feasibility study with engineers is showing it is workable.  This way the existing roof would be essentially preserved.
The proposal is to access these terraces from existing window openings in the bell tower, which are fairly discreetly altered to door openings. There would be a new stair in the tower from the floor level below.
5. Lift/Disabled access
This has been a difficult problem to resolve – the functional requirements being to a) provide disabled access into and within the building,  b) provide general passenger access to all floor levels and c) provide goods movements (artwork and  the like) to all floors.
We have carried out an extensive lift location study for thirteen options: ranking each with their respective negative and positive impacts. (Please let us know if you would like a copy). No location is without some negative aspects, but on balance we believe the external location as shown solves more problems than any of the other locations.
6. Exterior Setting
There are some elements remaining of the Kim Wilkie proposal, but is now less ambitious. The space to the west is proposed to be used as a gravel surfaced sculpture garden under the existing plane trees, surrounded by a holly hedge. A symmetrical pair of pavilions – for catering and flower selling is proposed on either side of the church – at the front. Kim Wilkie’s urban design analysis pointed out that there was a pre-Victorian and Victorian tradition for busy activity on the church frontage.


showing the proposed external glass lift and small pavilions to enliven the frontage. Both features were resisted by conservation officers though the Saint Marylebone Society described the lift as ‘inspired and elegant’ in their comments to Westminster Council.

A full set of plans, sections and elevations may be viewed at http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/environment/planning/searchapplications/

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FIRST PROPOSALS, PLANS & PHOTOGRAPHS

BWCP is retained to lead on the implementation of the concept, the listed building, architectural and planning approvals. The design team is Alan Baxter Associates [engineers], Kim Wilkie Associates [urban design and landscape], The Architectural History Practice [conservation appraisal], Wilson Stephens Associates [historic fabric], E+M Tecnica [services].

PLANNING AND LISTED BUILDING APPLICATIONS WERE MADE IN JUNE 2007 and withdrawn to allow extra time for review in October. They incorporate changes resulting from consultations.

A recent slide presentation with additional material may be downloaded here: …ppt. Reactions have been wide ranging with general support – some of it demanding a bolder, more modern approach to the idea of building on the roof, mainly from local amenity groups and residents; more reserved or negative reactions from the SJS Museum and English Heritage. Most of the outstanding issues can be resolved but the principle of establishing a visible change in the proportion of Soane’s intended clerestory structure is controversial and too challenging for some. Watch this space!

EXHIBITION, PUBLIC MEETING & TOURS OF THE BUILDING

Monday 26 February from 5.30pm:
tours:
in small groups between 5.30 and 6.30pm. Please email* to book suggesting your preferred time of 5.30/5.45/6.00/6.15pm
exhibition of proposals
continues in office hours until 5.30pm Thursday 29th February. Please email* to advise your anticipated time of arrival.

Please use the comment book or email your comments and suggestions by Monday 5th March: *mailto:brian@bwcp.co.uk

Public meeting starts 6.45pm with brief presentation on the history of the building, its structure and ideas for its restoration in a new use, followed by discussion.
We have opened consultations with English Heritage and Westminster City and have presented preliminary proposals to the St Marylebone Society and the Sir John Soane Museum curators. Thanks to the St Marylebone Society for assisting with organising the meeting.

Presentations prepared for the public meeting are downloadable as a Powerpoint slideshow: just click here! – they are large files: BWCP context, history, proposals drawings and images; Kim Wilkie’s proposals for the setting of the building and restoration of the railings; Alan Baxter’s structural research.

A planning and listed building application is in preparation for submission by the end of March. An application for interim uses pending the development and restoration is under consideration.

PROPOSALS
According to Sir Terry Farrell, Marylebone Road has the potential to be one of London’s greatest assets, by reinforcing it’s identity with vibrant street life and attractive landscaping as part of the Mayor’s 100 Public Spaces programme. Holy Trinity Church at 1 Marylebone Road, designed by John Soane in 1818 to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon, is a prominent Marylebone landmark. Unfortunately for the local community, the church fell victim to unsympathetic restoration in the 1950s and 60s and the space around it is currently a mishmash of bad railings, broken pavement, parking and unattractive traffic signage.
George Hammer and Urban Retreat Ventures are now working with architects and historic building experts led by architect Brian Waters of BWCP whose team includes Kim Wilkie, a leading British landscape architect renowned for his work at the Victoria and Albert museum and Hyde Park Corner, to revive and enhance the grand simplicity of Soane’s original design. In the Victorian era churches were not just places of worship but also hives of community activity; recreating this depends as much on the success of the outside space as the inside.
Imaginative, sympathetic restoration will ensure that One Marylebone Road is reborn as an architectural island jewel in the centre of London. The setting of the church will be enhanced by reconfiguring the pavement and adding new hedges, railings and lanterns at the perimeter and providing valet parking in place of today’s sea of parked cars. The existing trees will be up-lit to transform One Marylebone Road into an enchanted garden. A sculpture garden with bustling boulevard-style café, weekly farmers markets and a boules area will provide appealing spaces for neighbours and visitors alike to linger and enjoy.

PRECEDENTS
While New York has cult store Jeffrey, Rome has Tad, Paris has Colette and Milan has 10 Corso Como, London has long been lacking an inspiring, luxury retail destination.
One Marylebone Road will develop the ideas of these iconic stores to be an eclectic collection of exceptional fashion, beauty, art and design that meets rigorous standards of innovation, exclusivity and creative flair. Although luxury will be paramount, conventional brands will not be included unless they offer something with a genuine point of difference and the store will be as much about education and aspiration as it is about retailing.
Baccarat, manufacturers of the worlds finest crystal, plan to open a restaurant on the roof where diners will drink from crystal goblets under the light of Baccarat crystal chandeliers, as they do in the Baccarat Cristal Room in Paris.
Mr. Hammer is no stranger to unique and innovative retail spaces, having opened a number of groundbreaking ventures over the years. The Sanctuary in Covent Garden was the first day spa in the world when it opened in 1980. Previously a disused Post Office in Marylebone, the original Aveda Concept Store was the first to combine beauty retail, an organic café and a flower shop in a complete lifestyle experience.
The subsequent Aveda Concept Store in High Holborn set a new standard in hair and beauty salons and was voted ‘Best New Store in London’ by Time Out readers, while the Urban Retreat at Harrods offers an incomparable range of retail, hair and beauty services over 20,000 square feet on the top floor.
The latest venture at One Marylebone will be the masterpiece in a portfolio of luxury retail destinations.

NOTE: The following images and plans were first presented to the St Marylebone Society last November; the latest versions are on the downloadable Powerpoint slideshows (see above).

Our design development model showing the main Soane interior re-established and opened to daylight again:
PLANS:
crypt, mezzanine, ground, gallery and roof. Yellow tint is retail and ancillary uses:

John Soane’s intended rooftop clerestory structure reinterpreted to provide a fine small restaurant:

BWCP

Tel: 020 79382557



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