St Bernadette’s Church, West Kingsdown

The original design of St Bernadette’s Catholic Church in the village of West Kingsdown, Kent, was designed by our predecessors at Burns Guthrie and constructed in 1988. The existing church has a crucifix pyramidal form, with a steep, pitched gable roofs that extend down to almost ground level.

The church approached us to design an extension that could accommodate a small church hall and associated facilities, complete with its own entrance. The challenge was to prepare a design which represented a logical extension of the existing form and that sat comfortably in its context.

The proposal located the new building on the northwest-southeast axis of the existing church, with a new entrance path leading from the car park. The design was distinctive, yet of simple form, with a low-level link comprising new WC facilities and separate entrance. Inside, we adopted the materials of the interior of the existing church, with an exposed timber structure and veneered ply fittings to the storage and kitchenette partitions. High-level roof windows emphasise the dramatic height of the hall, while the south external wall comprises sliding doors opening on to a patio and church garden lawn.