Described by Elizabeth I as ‘the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England’, St Mary Redcliffe is both an ecclesiastical jewel and a dynamic, living church – a beacon of positivity, helping the least-advantaged and marginalised within the city of Bristol.
The church is ambitious to expand its outreach and mission activities. It is also determined to increase people’s enjoyment of the building by creating an outstanding visitor experience. The church’s development project, the focus of this design competition, will run concurrently with a wider regeneration project, The Redcliffe Neighbourhood Development Plan, which seeks to place the church – Grade I listed and the architectural equivalent of many European cathedrals – at the heart of a new urban village within the city centre.
St Mary Redcliffe attracts tens of thousands of visitors and tourists annually. Built and then re-built over a 300-year period from the early 13th century to the 15th century, the church embodies magnificence, but has always lacked sufficient support spaces for its important work in one of the most deprived wards in the country.
This is a two-stage design competition; at the first stage, expressions of interest are sought; at the second, designers will be asked to respond to the church’s vision for an integrated scheme, incorporating a range of facilities within a building or buildings: administrative and support spaces, exhibition spaces, a café, a shop, a meeting hall, an expanded/new community centre – all aimed at enabling the church to engage more fully with the local population and visitors, offering hospitality to all, sharing its history and treasures, as well as its grace and inspirations.
The competition seeks an outstanding architectural team that is creative, imaginative and visionary, who thoroughly understands the needs of the church and respects its exceptional heritage.