St Bart's Community Hub

A shared place to socialise, grow, cook, eat, play and worship together

St Bartholomew’s Church and CofE Diocese of Birmingham
Allens Cross, Birmingham
RIBA Work Stage
  • Project Lead
  • Architect
  • Principal Designer
  • Quantity Surveyor – Stace
  • Structural Engineer – Shire
  • Building Services Engineer – RCD Design
A new large residential development in Allens Cross presented the opportunity for a new community building. St Bartholomew’s Church and APEC Architects are now collaborating with local people, Bloor Homes and the Diocese of Birmingham to co-design St Bart’s Community Hub.

The vision is for the community hub to be a shining beacon that everyone knows about and where there is always plenty going on to join in with. It is intended that it will be a vibrant, happy place where people will feel welcomed and included, and connected to each other and their community. It is intended that local people will be able to drop in informally, with the Hub and its activities nurturing a strong sense of belonging to the area. Whilst St Bartholomew Church will use and manage the building, it’s important to them that the hub is perceived as for all the community.

The building is being designed with the community, rather than for the community. Through conversations and workshops, local residents, schools, community groups, potential building users and political representatives have been part of the process so far, asking that the brief for the hub addresses the need for:

  • Physical and social activities to help reduce health inequality and social isolation
  • Holistic support for families and young people
  • Growing, cooking and eating together to counteract food poverty without stigma

Following development of the brief, local people had input on the developing design proposals that seek to be physically, visually and socially accessible and inclusive. Flexible spaces will be provided in the building that connect to the outdoor areas, supporting a range of unstructured activities. There will be a particular focus on enabling intergenerational bonds between different types of building users, thus nurturing stronger community relations and addressing isolation.

The brief called for a building that reads as one building, rather than separate church and community spaces, and a clear and welcoming entrance point. The entrance welcome space and canopy knit two volumes together: the taller volume for multi-purpose activity spaces, and the smaller volume for offices, meeting space and a chapel / listening room. Between these volumes, a spine of services (such as the kitchen, WCs, storage and equipment) is hidden from view from the outside. The orientation and pitch of the two main volumes of the building enable the use of solar panels.

Environmental sustainability and regenerative design principles have informed the design process, from the way the building is laid out, to specifying low carbon materials, such as locally sourced brick and timber cladding.