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Soho church honoured with National Churches Trust Award
A Soho church has been honoured with a prestigious award by the National Churches Trust in recognition of the extensive work done to modernise the ageing front entrance and rebuild it beyond recognition.
The Revd Simon Buckley received the President’s Award from HRH Duke of Gloucester, Vice Patron of the National Churches Trust, on behalf of St Anne’s Church, Soho.
The historic church, which sits in the heart of Central London was first dedicated in 1686, and partially destroyed during the Blitz. The church was rebuilt following the Second World War and has since undergone an extensive programme of renovation to its front entrance which has seen the old iron gates and featureless corridor replaced with sleek glass doors, and neon lighting, creating a bright and modern entrance which reflects all the vibrancy of the Soho area.
The President’s Award recognised Simon’s efforts since the renovation programme began in 2014, and also those of the architects Lina Viluma and Sherief al Rifa’i, who as students at Central St Martin’s University were chosen as part of a competition to redesign the entrance.
The new design uses concealed lighting, neon and wooden panelling, and also includes a large cross of light which scrolls through the spectrum. Push plates on the glass doors carry the imprints of the hands of local community members, and the corridor is lined with illuminated display cases.
The judging panel said:
“We were delighted by this small scheme which brings a sense of style and fun to the entrance of St Anne’s church in Soho. The involvement of architecture students from Central St Martin’s from the start of the project has clearly paid off by bringing, as it has, a fresh artistic eye to the design of this new foyer…These elements have been combined with a striking lighting scheme to make a dynamic and inviting entrance to the church.”
The Revd Simon Buckley, Rector of St Anne’s Soho, said:
“I am absolutely delighted that this relatively small scheme has had such a big impact, not just on the awards panel, but also on the local community. Lina and Sherief’s design immediately caught people’s attention as it captured something of the personality of the community the church is here to serve: the neon is just so Soho! I’m thrilled that the National Churches Trust has given us this award.”
The new entrance was officially unveiled to the Soho community in December 2016, at a night-time blessing led by the former Bishop of London, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres KCVO.