OMI Architects are working with The Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits, to alter and extend their existing novitiate in Harborne, Birmingham known as Manresa House.
Envisaged as a ‘monastery in the city’ a novitiate is a place of residence and training for prospective members of the Society who come to live at Manresa House during the first two years of their training. This group of ‘novices’ is supported by a small group of permanent residents.
The scheme that has been developed in close collaboration with the community consists of 24 bedrooms and also includes a dining room, kitchen, offices, meeting rooms, library and a new chapel.
The key design drivers have been maximising the connections with the large landscaped garden, providing clarity to the circulation and creating a highly sustainable building that will be able to serve the community and the Society for many years to come. At the same time the proposals have been developed to foster a sense of community and domesticity as well as carefully balancing the requirements of openness and privacy, collective and private study as well as quiet and reflection.
The scheme retains an existing house as core around which a series of new build wings radiate establishing the key functional relationships.
The scheme has been designed to achieve BREEAM excellent and includes technologies such as PVs, ground source heat pump, and grey water recycling. The project received planning approval in May 2020.