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Work from a church

Modern office workplaces are very different from what they used to be. The tired, old, uniform rows of office desks and office chairs in a dull and uninspiring regulation building are thankfully long gone. 

Nowadays, working environments often no longer resemble simple offices. To the casual observer, they seem more like coffee shop interiors, with their informal air and breakout spaces.

Designed for comfort, creativity, and unorthodox functionality, the modern office workplace is now found tucked inside unusual buildings and locations like warehouses, basements and loft conversions.

One place you might not have imagined as a likely office space, though, is a church. Or rather, a former church. British architectural firm Weston Surman and Deane has recently completed a conversion of an old Victorian place of worship, transforming it from a musty and decrepit old religious site into a vibrant and colourful open-plan office space.

The concept of 'adaptive building reuse' is a growing trend in architecture circles, and the award-winning studio created by Tom Surman and Percy Weston has jumped onto the bandwagon with both feet in their attempts to find new uses for old buildings. Their official website confirms as much, stating that their work 'is driven by unique spatial and material responses to each site, programme and client', and that a 'strong emphasis is placed on innovative construction techniques to produce out-of-the-ordinary architecture'.

Out-of-the-ordinary is certainly what they've achieved with their church conversion. The project has become something of a showpiece for the firm, especially since it now functions as their very own office. Although the look is unquestionably and unflinchingly modern, the designers were keen to keep something of the church's former glory – which is why stained-glass panels and screens have been utilised as an homage to its past life.

The stained-glass panels and dividers are the only items that call to mind a traditional church aesthetic; for the rest, the office space features clean, contemporary whitewashed walls and office fixtures, completed by a tasteful, light-brown hardwood floor. The metal stairway, which hangs from the roof, retains a powerful sense of novelty despite the traditional geometrical patterns of the stained-glass panels which adorn it.

The office contains two separate floor spaces, one at each end of the room. The old church's central space boasts an elevated ceiling and wide windows, allowing daylight to pour in and illuminate the minimalist desks and workstations.

Image credits: Weston Surman and Deane

Posted by: Josh Seddon

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