St Peter’s Centre


St Peter’s Centre

Project Info

Re-order a 12th Century Grade 1 listed church to create a sustainable multi-use community building, designed to function as:

  • Service delivery centre for children’s services (Sure Start programme)
  • Public lending library
  • Worship space for Anglican services
  • Community event space

Due to the sensitive nature of the site in heritage and religious terms, Communion Design endeavoured to change as little as possible about the existing building, and sought to reduce to an absolute minimum the facilities required to deliver the brief. These facilities were prioritised as follows:

  • Wood pellet boiler
  • Kitchen
  • Accessible WC
  • WC
  • Cleaners area
  • Stair and lift access to first floor balcony

To minimise impact, all facilities were designed to be contained within freestanding timber boxes. When use dictates, the boxes are opened allowing the existing spaces to be transformed from 12th century patterns of worship, to more contemporary uses almost instantly. Once the activity is complete, the boxes are closed, and the space returns to sacred silence.

The timber boxes are designed as lightweight, freestanding and reversible insertions within the existing space. Considerable effort was required to make these constructions comply with the fire regulations. Structurally, the boxes are constructed from 125×75mm softwood stud work, braced with 19mm plywood sheathing. Careful detailing of the frame ensures absolute structural stability. The frame bears onto a timber soleplate, which bears directly onto the reinforced slab; this prevented the need for intrusive excavations in an archeologically sensitive site.

The outer cladding of the boxes was specific to each. The largest and most complex was located at the West end of the chancel. This box housed the kitchen, accessible WC, platform lift and plant room. This gave support to the oak staircase and first floor balcony with bridge to the new library. The cladding was formed from 20mm thick, 100mm wide American grown oak boards. Great care was required in its construction, since to achieve an elevation of uninterrupted oak boards, the setting out of the internal spaces and the placement of the opening apertures was subject to the matrix of the oak board cladding. This was particularly taxing for the integration of the platform lift door.

Although the oak cladding fire protects the structure, it did present a risk of surface spread of flame. To overcome this, the oak boards were finished with 2 layers of Envirograph VFR, overcoated with Osmo Polyx Hardwax which gave a pleasing final appearance.

The floors were finished with either 15mm or 22mm thick, 180mm wide engineered board, which act well with the underfloor heating loops installed. A 75kw KWB wood pellet boiler is housed in a cedar clad energy cabin, located on the edge of the churchyard. Bespoke storage furniture was designed by Communion, and constructed in oak or clad in Portuguese cork, which allows for display of the children’s works within the nave of the church.

LocationPeterchurch, Herefordshire

ArchitectCommunion Design

Structural EngineerSinclair Johnston & Partners

Wood SupplierTimbmet

ContractorWilliam Powell & Sons LTD


ClientSt Peter's PCC, Peterchurch

JoineryWilliam Powell & Sons LTD

Mechanical and Electrical EngineerESDP