St George’s Church, Britwell, Del Carmen First

Location: Britwell, UK
Architect: Allen Associates Architects, Bracknell, Berkshire
Slate Used: Del Carmen First, Blue-black roofing slate, 500mm x 250mm

St George’s Church was founded in the late-1950s to serve the needs of the Britwell Estate being built by the GLC to provide overspill housing for north-west London. In 2002 St George’s Church was declared unsafe and demolished three years later. Its vicar, the Revd John Chorlton, was determined the church would be rebuilt and embarked on a six-year fund raising campaign that raised the £1.7million needed.

Allen Associates Architects was appointed and given a brief to design ‘a robust, but welcoming and homely, new church and community centre, making use of natural materials and renewable energy.’ Built by LIFE Build Solutions, St George’s Church is a steel-framed building faced with handmade bricks and roofed with natural roofing slates.

The large roof surface makes a major contribution to energy saving. The roof supports a photo-voltaic panel array that provides an output of around 8,300kW a year. The installation posed an unexpected challenge for the design team as architect Ralph Allen relates: “South Facing, proposed a solution using a fixing they’ve designed and manufacture: the rails for the panels are securely fixed to the rafters using a series of brackets and a two-piece, zinc flashing replaces the slate where the bracket comes through the roof slope. South Facing fitted the brackets, Attleys fitted the flashing as they laid the slates and then South Facing installed the panels – perfect! – no drilling through the newley laid slates, disturbing the integrity of the roof”

In October 2009, St George’s Church had a royal visitor when Anne, Princess Royal, visited the new church and unveiled a plaque to commemorate its official opening – and long may it remain so!

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