Bethnal Green Mission Church in London’s East End represents a groundbreaking model for contemporary places of worship in dense urban environments.
The facade comprises a regular concrete grid with brick infill panels. EH Smith worked with the Architects to choose a brick to complement the local context, which contains a number of high-quality masonry buildings, including the V&A Museum of Childhood and St John at Bethnal Green church.
It also makes the scheme feel grounded and part of the city, in keeping with its community programme. The pale-toned brick is conceived as a contemporary interpretation of London stock brick, with the proportions of the masonry panels evoking the adjacent Georgian terrace.
The bricks are laid in a raking monk bond, which produces a subtle woven aesthetic. The pattern is inspired by a series of bold diagonal ribs that form the ceiling of the double-height church space, which are themselves references to the cross vaulting in traditional churches; reinterpreted to form a contemporary aesthetic.
These beams penetrate the office spaces above, forming gaps to bring more natural light in, while also reinforcing visual connections between the different functions of the development.
Architect: Gatti Routh Rhodes
Contractors: Grangewood Brickwork Services Ltd