Studio BAD are currently working with the City Road Church in Bristol, to undertake an extensive feasibility study into the future plans of the church building to enable to church to better support their community. The diocese has recognised a need to adapt the building to continue to meet the requirements of the local neighbourhood, but needed assistance from Studio BAD to engage with the local community and unlock their needs from the building, to then translate these into a design solution.

The church would like to reimagine the physical building to reconnect with the community, to bring people together in faith, and be an open house for all. As a progressive group they see there should be room to change their offer and are open to the potential the church has to seed all areas of society from its prominent position. Located on a busy intersection on a main artery into the city centre, the City Road Church is at the heart of a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood within the city.

A first stage of the design process was to host a series of engagement workshops, to allow all voices to be heard and all needs to be assessed for the physical space. The key words distilled from this work included ‘family, food, community, home and safe’ and key goals agreed upon included the want to create a flexible internal space, a more welcoming and inviting offer from the street and improved accessibility throughout.

Internally the design looks to offer a flexible layout, by removing the fixed pews and creating a level floor, so the central space can be used for a variety of offers such as faith, food, events, performance, sport or cinema. The large internal space could also offer the opportunity for flexible and changeable ‘pop-ups’ to be introduced within the aisles, which could be offerings such as a café, ‘swap’ shop, food bank, lounge seating, sound studio, book corner or even kids play corner.

Externally work would be undertaken to activate the building, with signage, planting and lighting to offer an instant welcome and attract people into the space. Tables, storage, a kitchenette and contemporary main porch would add functionality to the front entrance, alongside ‘Italian style’ steps up to the main entrance to act as a ramp and improve accessibility.

To improve transparency from the street level the design replaces the entrance doors with glazing and change the obscured glazing in entrance hall for clear glass, drawing in more daylight and breaks down the threshold resistance by offering clear views into the church space.

Additional opportunities were investigated, including adding flexible co-working spaces and a library area on the first floor as a community offer, and also revenue stream for the church. Another option looked into the possibility of unlocking the potential of the site by extending upwards, to add residential flats onto the roof of the church which could offer revenue for the church and an important offer to the community offer.

Practice : Studio: B.A.D Architects

Time Scale: December 2023 – ongoing

Budget: Undisclosed

Location: Bristol

Client: City Road Church