Konishi Gaffney Architects’ refurbishment and extension of Greyfriars Charteris Centre in Edinburgh has transformed the underused former church and administrative building into a thriving community hub, providing flexible work and events spaces and a nondenominational sanctuary.
Sitting at the base of Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano, the original church was built in 1912. After its congregation merged with another local church and worship activities were relocated, the community outreach and enterprise centre was formed in 2016. Suffering from poor access across multiple levels and a closed-off appearance from the street, the Charteris Centre ran a competition to improve the building and allow it to be better used and more inclusive.
Konishi Gaffney’s winning design reconfigures the main entrance and inserts a timber ‘link’ building between the church and neighbouring offices. The centre now benefits from a defined street presence and a welcoming entrance hall which connects all parts of the building, both horizontally and vertically.
An open-tiered staircase and seating area create views through the building and join the coworking hub in the basement with the community functions above. The architects worked closely with local specialists Old School Fabrications to develop detailing for the staircase and a material palate of maple, walnut and birch-faced ply, which was then applied to all new elements throughout the building.
Along with the extensive use of timber in the project, significant improvements to the existing building were made in terms of its environmental performance. This included the installation of loft and floor insulation, replacing existing single-glazed windows with double-glazed units, a new efficient heating system, low energy LED lighting, and a 24kW solar array installed on the building’s large
On a like-for-like basis, the development before refurbishment was calculated to use 45.8 CO2e/m2/yr – following refurbishment, this has been significantly improved, with a 60% reduction in emissions, and is now estimated to use 18.1 CO2e/m2/yr.