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London Calvary church

New build and internal refurbishment

Location : Kingston, UK

Client : Private

Year : 2016-on going

Area : 350 sq.m

stage : Permission granted, detailed design completed

Project description

Calvary Korean Church founded in 1990, is a vibrant and active church used not only by Koreans, but also by all of nationals and well served for both for its congregation and the community. This building was used for the council’s day nursery centre until 2012, and further converted into the current church in September 2012.

A number of site influences have shaped design concept, such as: beautiful pitched roofed building, wide frontages with car parking space, bright and welcoming courtyard connecting main and extension building, and a huge rear garden. As for the design influences, contemporary and timeless space becomes the main atmosphere of the building. The material has to be a design language that is simple, well detailed and goes throughout the whole building. Its roof shape has to integrate well with the existing building, creating a spiritual and warm light from the outside.

The service hall sits in the heart of the site which can be visually connected to main building on the right and massive rear garden on the left, so that it becomes the main hub for the church.

Space wise, it is a huge square volume of space, with an inclined ceiling from 3 meters to 5 meters of the highest.


Towards the rear garden, it has a big opening with two layers of movable glazing on the outer side, and sliding plywood door on the inner side. Towards the corridor, there is also a sliding door.

Understanding that this space needs to be flexible, the door can be closed for service purpose to reduce the noise, and after it finishes it can be opened again.

By doing so, it creates a bigger space that links the rear garden and courtyard with the main service hall.

Next to the main service hall is a storage to contain all the chairs and tables. Depends on the occasions, the furniture arrangements can be changed with ease.


For the convenience and welcoming front experience for all ages and disabled person, two entrances are provided.

The first entrance, in which the existing ramp is angled towards to main entrance and new stair is also built in front of main entrance door.

The second entrance is also designed through the side buildings, also with a ramp toward the door, leading to the well lit courtyard. This entrance can also act for a purpose of fire or emergency access.






The space itself needed to be flexible in terms of usage,

meaning that it can be arranged not only as a serving space, but also another activity such as meeting, conference, or resting area. A good connection between the main entrance to the rear garden is also an important factor of this design, as it defines the clear interaction between outdoor and indoor space. Therefore, the existing rear building are converted into one main service hall which make the currently rear building to be big enough to accommodate the current church coming capacity of around 165~170 people. As for the internal refurbishment, parts of internal wall are removed from currently forming main service hall,

so that the current narrow and dark front foyer can be opened directly to the bright courtyard, creating welcoming social space which is important part of the church function.

In addition, the corridors can be widely opened for around 35 additional service seats.

Furthermore, the rear terrace garden can also be used for another 35 additional seats. In total, the main service hall provides in total of around 240 seats.


Surrounded by the residential houses and facing neighboring gardens from where proposed, the relationship of any building to its neighbor is important.

Hence the most important design concept to rear building should not adversely impact neighboring properties and this has formed the newly designed roof shape.


The inclining pitched roof from three sides of wall and converging to one higher point not only to design building as a church, but also to improve relationship to neighboring properties from the current faceless flat felt roof.

It creates spatial valley between new roof and the main volume of two storey building.


The outside wall is cladded in dark yellow brick matching existing wall and others well founded in the context.

Two pitched roof planes facing to neighboring properties is using roof tiles, matching existing roof colour at the main building.

In addition, central roof plane is covered in sedum planting creating another layer of garden space at the first floor level as a feature.

This roof will be not accessible for the public except for maintenance purpose. However, this sedum roof can be seen from the first floor of church foyer.


The side wall has a full glazing which exposed directly to the sedum roof, meaning that there is a clear visualization from the room to outside view.

It is very important that people can have a private place and time for them to pray in silence.

Different atmospheres can be felt throughout the days, whether it is morning time when the sky is still dark, a bright afternoon lunch time when people talk, drink tea, or relaxing, or at noon when the service is going.

With the cross sitting on the inclined sedum roof, the scenery becomes a story of how Calvary Church itself got its name.


Material wise, the use of timber, plaster, and brick play important roles in shaping the desired church atmosphere.

For the main two storey building, timber flooring is used. As for the main service hall, series of rectangular plywood are attached throughout the wall, forming a simple and warm space.

The courtyard is mainly constructed out of bricks, both the wall and flooring correspondence to the outer brick.

With the bright light shining through, the courtyard with roof light works as buffer space between the main service hall and main building.

Next to the courtyard, there is a wooden stair leading to the church foyer which features wooden floor, balustrade and seats, with timber frame window towards the view to the sedum roof. 



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