St John's United Reformed Church extension

Atkinson Roe, New Barnet, 2017


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Exterior view from the car park 

Martin Atkinson (website)     Download Original

  • Exterior view from the car park    
  • Exterior    
  • Exterior    
  • Context    
  • Context seen from the street    
  • Detail    
  • tea servery.jpg    
  • tea prep area    
  • Detail    
  • Accessible WC    
  • Proposed Ground Floor Plan    
  • Detailed Plan    
  • Elevations & Sections    
  • Detailed Cross Sections    
  • Part Detailed Long Section    
  • Construction Sequence    
  • Cantilevered Steelwork    
  • Working Details    

A cantilevered extension to provide a refreshment facility, accessible WC and AV hub

St John’s United Reformed church was built in 1969 and received a Civic Trust Award the following year. Unusually, it was constructed on the retained lower walls of the original St Augustine’s Presbyterian Church. The design, influenced by contemporary Scandinavian architecture, was based on the concept of a Bedouin tent, resulting in few vertical or perpendicular walls. Due to the steeply sloping site, the ground and lower ground floors can both be accessed off street level.

The architect, Jon Finlayson, was a member of the congregation and only in his late twenties when he took on this, his first major commission. Now in his eighties, Jon was consulted throughout the design process.

The extension emanated from the need to provide tea making facilities and an accessible toilet off the main worship space. These were originally provided at the lower level and the protracted external access for the less-abled was neither independent, convenient nor particularly practical. The increased facilities now support wider community use of this principal space, which was previously under utilised. The late addition of a dedicated AV hub represents a further improvement.

The site topology allows the extension to be cantilevered out over the car parking which is not restricted as a result. Clad in matching reclaimed natural slate, its form is expressed as ‘peeling away’ from the existing mass.

As a cantilever, the extension was constructed using a lightweight timber frame similar to the existing, supported by galvanised steel brackets which are left exposed.

The internal layout allows the entrance to the WC to be slightly recessed to prevent direct sightlines from the main worship space. The tea preparation area can be concealed behind full height and width curtains which were part of the original design.


  • Begun: Aug 2017
  • Completed: Dec 2017
  • Floor area: 19m2
  • Sector: Religious
  • Total cost: £83,000
  • Funding: Privately funded plus a number of grants
  • Tender date: Apr 2017
  • Procurement: JCT Minor Works 2016
  • Address: St John's United Reformed Church, Mowbray Road, New Barnet, EN5 1RH, United Kingdom

Professional Team