Soho church’s new entrance invites community in
On 8 December, the Bishop of London visited Soho to bless the new entrance of St Anne’s Church, which opened its newly-illuminated doors to the public for the first time, following an extensive programme of refurbishment.
Hundreds of people gathered on Dean Street outside St Anne’s Church, Soho, to celebrate the opening of its new doors to the community for the first time. Old and uninspiring iron gates have been replaced by a new, brightly-lit entrance, which includes sleek glass doors, the name of the church in neon and a large cross of light which scrolls through the colour spectrum.
Addressing the congregation the Bishop joked that the old stone entrance with its iron gates had always reminded him of Wormwood Scrubs, but the new design with plate glass doors and neon lighting, designed by students at Central St Martin’s (University of the Arts, London) expressed the confidence and vitality of the church, allowing St Anne’s to continue its role as the beating heart of the community.
The new entrance was designed by Lina Viluma and Sherief al Rifa’i, who were chosen as part of a competition to redesign the entrance of St Anne’s to make it more visible, accessible and welcoming. The new design uses concealed lighting, neon and wooden panelling to create a cool and inviting space that is also eye catching. Push plates on the front doors carry the imprints of the hands of local community members, and the corridor is lined with illuminated display cases.
Following the Bishop’s blessing the new neon sign and cross were switched on, illuminating Dean Street, while a choir sang the Hallelujah Chorus in celebration. A band then led the crowd through the new entrance and into the church garden where children from the parish school sang carols and the Christmas tree lights were switched on.
The Revd Simon Buckley, Rector of St Anne’s, said of the opening:
“We were so pleased that the Bishop of London was able to come down to Soho to lead the unveiling of our new entrance, which reflects all the exciting vibrancy of Soho. This has been a project long in the making, and I want to thank everyone from the architects to the contractors, and all those who donated, who helped make it a reality.”