With so many churches trying to find the balance between historical buildings and modern needs, Des Cairns Architecture has developed a reputation within the ecclesiastical sector of understanding these unique requirements.
With an impressive list of conservation projects to its name, Des Cairns Architecture boasts wide- ranging experience in heritage and restoration, including work on a mix of Listed buildings, including Grade A, Grade B and Grade B+.
“We enjoy the challenge of understanding the historical significance of a building and combining that with a practical approach to create functional, flexible spaces that allow churches to develop and move forward,” commented Des, who holds full Conservation Accreditation. “At all times, we adhere to the conservation principles of minimum intervention and maximum retention. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t be inventive.”
Central to the designs of Des Cairns Architecture are flexible, internal layouts that make this architecturally important buildings more accessible. This includes, where appropriate, modern style seating that replaces traditional pews, the growing café style layout that requires the introduction of a coffee dock, not to mention the sympathetic inclusion of heating as well as audio-visual technology.
Work at Lisburn Cathedral, St Stephen’s, Millfield and, most recently, The Holy and Undivided Trinity Parish Church in Magheralin, all showcase this approach.
The work in Magheralin has transformed a church that has been part of the local landscape, in its current form, since 1890. While the building is high Victorian in character – something that has been lovingly restored and retained – Des Cairns Architecture has reconfigured and reimagined the internal space to create flexible layout options.
The practical yet flexible approach is perfectly illustrated by the south transcept. This area has been subtly separated off from the rest of the church by a striking full height planar wall. This space has its own heating and can be used as a meeting room while, during the service, it is perfect for families with young children who are able to follow the service through the new AV system without worrying about disturbing others.
“We enjoy the challenge of retaining the historical aspects of a church while ensuring they can offer a modern outlook,” concluded Des.