St Mark's Church, Clerkenwell

ZRP Architects, London, 2018


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At nearly 200 years old, St Mark’s is a Grade II listed church.

Occupying a tight plot, the west end adjoins a street with the remaining three sides are bounded by a park. The church was closed off from the street and local community by heavy railings and had no accessible entrance. The vision was to encourage wider, uninhibited use by creating an welcoming frontage; providing an accessible entrance; renovating the existing main entrance and steps; and encouraging interaction and engagement.

The scheme sought to provide a dignified, inclusive approach for all and enhance the church’s setting. The new ramp was to be beautiful and contemporary while complimenting and respecting the host building. Level access couldn’t be provided at the front entrance, requiring a new access with a long ramp to overcome significant height change, so a circular plan form allowed greater travel distance.

Radial finned guarding permits views through to the church from all angles, but appear as one mass when viewed obliquely. The play of solid and void provides a sense of movement, with shifting light and mass enlivening the structure and adding a sculptural quality. New landscaping uses curving paths through feature planting which animate the senses with whispering grasses and fragrant lavenders.

As well as being a conservation area, challenges were presented by mature trees and limited space. The ramp avoids disturbing tree roots and has no structural connection to the church. Bronzed aluminium fins complement the tones of the existing stonework and respect the character and integrity of the church.

St Mark’s now has a befitting frontage with new metalwork that enhances its character. The project provides a dignified means of entry, opening the church to a broader community and enabling it to be a place of worship, congregation and interaction, affording equal enjoyment to all.


  • Begun: Sep 2017
  • Completed: Apr 2018
  • Sector: Religious
  • Total cost: £78,500
  • Funding: Cloudesley Trust
  • Tender date: Jul 2017
  • Procurement: JCT IC 2016
  • Address: St Mark's Church , London, EC1R 4QE, United Kingdom

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