“This latest vision from OMI is a gem, a microprocessor of a solution, a piece of miniaturisation for the age of cameras the size of credit cards and Mercedes as big as your hat. The public reading room, Sunday School and double height auditorium and balcony are so perfectly modulated into the limited space that the effects are almost illusory”. Phil Griffin, City Life Magazine.
Christian Science is a set of beliefs and practices developed in 19th-century New England, USA by Mary Baker Eddy, who argued in her book Science and Health (1875) that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone. The book became Christian Science’s central text, along with the Bible, and by 2001 had sold over nine million copies. Christian Science has no connection with ‘Scientology’.
The Manchester congregation was formerly based in the Albert Hall building on Peter Street in Manchester’s City Centre (now a music venue). Plans to redevelop the Albert Hall meant the Church had to relocate. OMI worked closely with the members to devise a strategy for creating a new church that included an auditorium, bookshop and reading room and a Sunday School, within the basement, ground and first floors of a 1950s office building on the opposite side of the street.
The existing building was hollowed out to create dramatic double and triple height voids. The result is a spatially complex arrangement with a spiritual undertone offering intriguing volumes and vantage points.
In keeping with Christian Scientist beliefs, the end product is stripped of ornament and overt religious symbolism, yet the building retains an otherworldly aura that the congregation hold very dear. The project received an RIBA Award for Design Excellence.
CLIENT – Fourth Church of Christ Scientist STATUS – Completed COMPLETION DATE – 1999 VALUE – £600K LOCATION – Peter Street, Manchester TEAM: Structural Engineer Modus Mechanical Engineer Miller Walmsley Main Contractor Seddon
AWARDS – 2000 Manchester Society of Architects Award Winner