St Margaret's Church

Studio BAD, Portsmouth, 2021



All photographs Richard Chivers     Download Original

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The church building had been condemned when Studio BAD was approached to review the possibility of renovating the incredible church, to fit the needs of the local community.

Before starting the redevelopment, the design team held numerous community workshops, listening to the diverse voices and needs from the space. At the centre of the concept is ‘meanwhile architecture’ – a methodology through which an innovative strategy can be delivered incrementally as resources allow, adding flexibility to future proof the plans.

An air source heat pump system was installed to solve the heating issue, with an annual CO2 emission saving of 20.7 tonnes. The zoned underfloor heating, below a concrete floor, has transformed the church and offers flexibility to heat only where needed. The original floorboards were sold as part of the sustainable, circular economy ethos of the project, funding the renovation.

The front door was a key concern as the existing entrance was austere, the physical door was no longer thermally insulating or strong enough. The new contemporary door echo’s the previous, with additional glazing to offer glimpses inside, breaking the threshold barrier.

New washroom facilities were added, with a café installed in the nave. Retail space, a food bank and children’s play area were also created using multifunctional furniture that can be moved to create different areas as needed – a cost effective approach that gives flexibility to the space.

A beautiful birch ‘Sunday School’ door is located just off the nave, designed to offer privacy but with glazed cut-outs to echo the church’s belief of connectivity, letting the light out and accepting all.

The renovation and reimagination of St Margaret’s church has transformed the rotting and condemned church to deliver a new focal point for the city, with flexibility to support community services alongside traditional church functions.

Annual CO2 data was not provided


  • Begun: Feb 2020
  • Completed: Oct 2021
  • Floor area: 470m2
  • Sector: Religious
  • Total cost: £299,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Oct 2019
  • Procurement: Procurement construction management
  • Address: Highland Road, Southsea, Portsmouth, PO4 9DD, United Kingdom

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