Transforming the community hall

Interior of the Grade I Listed synagogue.

Interior of the Grade I Listed synagogue.

Bevis Marks Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the UK dating from 1701, with designs based on the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam.

Today the synagogue is the focal point for the small resident but large working community of the City of London. Apart from the Grade I Listed intricately detailed main prayer space, there is a restaurant and community hall, used for a variety social and community functions.

Square Feet Architects were commissioned to carry out a full refurbishment of the community hall, to reorganise the administration spaces, provide better a restaurant kitchen working environment and to improve disabled access and facilities. We also facilitated the exhibition of a 12th century Mikveh (Jewish ritual bathing pool), the oldest Jewish artefact ever to be found in London, that was discovered during the construction of an office building on Milk Street.

 

A conceptual shared prayer space.

Daniel Leon, Matthew Lloyd and Shahed Saleem.

Visit to Brick Lane Mosque as part of a tour and RIBA Journal round table discussion.

Visit to Brick Lane Mosque as part of a tour and RIBA Journal round table discussion.

Presentation and panel discussion at Kings College London chaired by Prof Aaron Rosen

Presentation and panel discussion at Kings College London chaired by Prof Aaron Rosen

Daniel Leon was introduced to Matthew Lloyd and Shahed Saleem through the 3 Faiths Forum and the three architects were inspired by the concept of a single shared space for three faiths—Christian, Jewish, and Muslim. This was driven in part by pragmatic cost and land use demands, but also presented an opportunity to explore the possibility of the tripartite worship concept—a shared space that can be a mosque on a Friday, a synagogue on a Saturday, and a church on a Sunday.

The idea coincided with the London Olympic Games and attracted wide-ranging attention and debate. The proposals were featured in the RIBA Journal (Dec 2011), Radio 4’s Sunday programme (14.1.13), and the 3FF Urban Dialogues Exhibition 2012. A steering Group lead by Prof. Aaron Rosen of Kings College, London has now been established to investigate the possibility of how the concept could be realised, possibly within the temporary context of a festival.

 

Updating the main prayer space

Square Feet Architects were appointed to help the community to refresh the main prayer space, as well as create better, more flexible areas for the youth and 'not-so-young' to gather.

The original part of the building dates from the 1950's with a large 60's extension added. 

We worked with the community leaders with the design and arrangement of new pews sourced from an excellent firm of Northern Irish joinery manufacturers. 

We also made a new 'beit hamidrash', a smaller everyday prayer and learning space, from a  few slightly tired classrooms, an updated nursery room and a youth room. 

New community and teaching building 

The design of a new wing of this community campus.

Replacing a rather tired 60's hall building with something suitable for holding community functions and celebrations.

The upper storey provides a suite of flexible learning and gathering spaces set under vaulted ceilings bringing in maximum light (and inspiration perhaps).