Every now and again, a project comes up that really sparks your creativity.
Recently, we were asked to covert a church into a shop. Work has begun and we’re making great headway. But it really got us thinking about the foresight, creativity and imagination that’s required when creating something new from something old, that’s taking on a whole new purpose.
Vacant buildings – little free space
Across Europe, old and empty buildings are being repurposed. Empty industrial factories, farm houses, department stores, airports, offices, and churches are all being converted to fill empty space with much needed amenities.
In the UK alone, there’s a massive buzz around the office market where several old, unused buildings are being converted into apartments. It’s of little surprise that it’s catching on, buildings are being given a new lease of life and current housing issues are part solved.
Old meets new
What’s so attractive about converting an old building into something new? For many, one of the greatest prospects is the blending of old, original features with contemporary design. The idea of converting an old rustic barn or a disused church into a dream home or shop is appealing to most!
Rather than working against the building, much of the magic lies in working with it, and dealing with any structural issues when they arise. Keeping hold of the original design and features, whether structural, architectural or unique fixtures, can work wonderfully in combination with modern features and design elements that serve to complement in their entirety.
Church conversions on the rise
Over the last few years, a large number of churches have been earmarked for closure with buyers snapping them up to turn into homes. It doesn’t come as a huge surprise in a stressful world, where a converted church promises a soulful haven.
In Helston, Cornwall, a former chapel is being converted into a butcher’s shop, and in Hayle (also Cornwall) a church hall, kitchen block and link corridor is being converted into one three-bed dwelling, three two-bed dwellings and associated garden and parking areas.
Many of these buildings are in a poor state of repair and failing to positively contribute to the character of the original buildings and surrounding areas, so new conversions will enable more efficient use of the sites and provide essential amenities. In many cases, they can also provide long lasting solutions to address the current housing crisis.
The essence of converting an old building, such as a church, lies in retaining some of the old characteristics and individual features. Generally speaking, most planners don’t want to see significant alterations to the existing building.
In our case, we’re keeping the main building due to the interesting design it possesses. The external appearance was considered by local residents to provide a build that fit in sensitively with the neighbourhood, so we’re keen to retain local support with the conversion.
Building redevelopment is an increasingly popular solution when it comes to the problems in creating new space for residential, commercial and leisure purposes in thriving cities. However, converting old buildings is challenging, particularly when dealing with the practicalities of listed buildings, and, occasional obstacles.
That said, it is incredibly rewarding, providing you’re working with an experienced company!
If you’re looking to convert a building, please get in touch with a member of our friendly team. We’d love to help you bring an old building to life!