Sheffield community to benefit after modernisation of grade II* listed chapel

01 March, 2019

Part of a grade II* listed Unitarian chapel in the heart of Sheffield has been refurbished, modernised and extended as part of a £500,000 project to preserve it for future generations.

The Upper Chapel was founded by James Fisher, who was the vicar of Sheffield Parish Church, now Sheffield Cathedral, during the Commonwealth of England. Originally, the chapel, in Norfolk Street, had a congregation of 1,000 – which, in the mid-19th century, was one sixth of the population of the city.

The Hollis Building is part of the chapel complex, which also includes Channel Hall and a caretaker’s cottage. The ground floor of the Hollis Building is used as a meeting place for the congregation and a variety of Unitarian activities. The first floor has a number of rooms, including the minister’s office and a new meeting/conference room, which is available for hire.

Pick Everard designed and oversaw the installation of the building services and supported the refurbishment of the building, which is now open for use by the chapel community.

Chris Smith, director at independent property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard, said:

“It has been a pleasure to work on such a fantastic scheme, which will benefit the Sheffield community for years to come.

“The chapel’s existing facilities – which include: the vestry, offices, meeting rooms, kitchens and toilets – have been enhanced and the logistics improved by the construction of a cloister walkway and extension and a full design overhaul.

“We’re proud that our work has benefitted the community and provided significant social value, with the work enhancing and improving the chapel’s existing facilities.”

A single-storey extension, which includes large rooflights to flood the room with natural lighting, was also constructed towards the back of the Hollis Building to meet growing demand for the church’s space.

Chris added:

“All the building services were life expired and needed to be replaced. In order to minimise disruption to the chapel, the works were completed in two phases, allowing the continued use of some areas.

“The client wanted to preserve the character and history of the Hollis Building, while making alterations to improve its function and repair. To ensure the church celebrated its historical features, we specified a blend of modern and period equipment – including LED lighting, lighting controls and heritage pattern radiators.

“The timber wall panelling was also restored, with contemporary new panelling being added to the main meeting rooms. The building’s original sash windows were repaired and internal brick and stonework cleaned.”

Jen Langfield, project architect at Chiles Evans + Care Architects, added:

“Sandwiched between the prestigious Channing Hall and Upper Chapel, the Hollis Building was an evidently underutilised part of the Upper Chapel complex. The spaces it housed did not match the congregation’s need and the ailing fabric and services required widespread modernisation to secure the building’s future.

“We worked closely with the client to develop a scheme that best supports the chapel community’s wide-ranging needs, as well as future growth and development. Complex site constraints were essential factors in both design and delivery of the works and attention to detail throughout strategic planning stages ensured the adjacent buildings remained in use by the client during construction.

“The scheme unpicked decades of poor quality alterations that detracted from the quality and grandeur of the complex. The design team collaborated closely to ensure the design, specification and detailing were contemporary yet respectful to the setting, and robust enough to last long into the future.

“We are proud that our work at Upper Chapel over the last two years has resulted in a contemporary yet sensitive intervention on this important site, and we hope it will be enjoyed by the Sheffield community for many years to come.”

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