A Gateshead architecture firm is on a mission to raise vital funds to help with refurbishment plans for a church in Seaham, County Durham.
The work to be undertaken is something Blaydon-based Gradon Architecture know all about, having converted an old church into their offices, NE40 Studios. And the firm takes great pride in preserving old buildings.
Gradon have now put forward design proposals to planners aimed at changing the style of Seaham Methodist Church to make it a welcoming community hub and place of worship.
If plans are approved, the church needs to raise enough money for the project to go ahead, alongside a grant from the Methodist Church.
Paul Skepper, project leader at Gradon Architecture, said: “We are looking at helping to attract younger people into the church with a much more modern, vibrant interior which will create an open-plan community space.”
Plans include a timber-frame pergola along with other landscaping features to enhance the church’s external entrance. Restructuring the building’s internal layout will also increase the church’s capacity to accommodate more people and will include a fusion of vibrant colours, lighting and glass partitions between rooms.
Graham McDarby, his wife Donna and the team are keen to help the church raise the funds needed for the work to be carried out.
Skepper added: “As well as a Justgiving link on Gradon’s website, Graham and a few members of the team will also take part in sporting challenges throughout the year to raise cash.”
The methodist church on Tempest Road, Seaham is currently a 1970s brick building which lacks space.
But with the ambition to grow its work in the community and expand its services further, the church believes Gradon Architecture’s design plans will help bring its facilities into the 21st Century.
Reverend Gill McBride, a minister at Seaham Methodist Church, said: “Operating many of our church activities out of just one dedicated room has been increasingly challenging. This lack of space has put us under increased pressure to modernise our facilities.
“We’re delighted by the design vision put forward by the team at Gradon Architecture. At a time when other community buildings are closing in the local area, these proposals will help to secure our position in the community for the future, whilst also giving us a real wow-factor both inside and out.”
Graham McDarby, design director at Gradon, said: “Despite being a real community asset, Seaham Methodist Church’s unconventional design and layout has meant it has not been able to function as it was intended for some time. To overcome this, we presented the church with a series of conceptual designs of how we could reinvigorate it for the future.”
Gill, added: “Although we still have a way to go before we raise the money we need to complete this project, the community’s support has already been absolutely fantastic. We’ve so far raised over £7,000 through coffee mornings and other events and we’ll be hoping to organise other fundraising events soon.”
Gradon Architecture is no stranger to refurbishing key religious buildings. The practice also recently modernised the entrance and café area of the Grade II listed Brunswick Methodist Church in Newcastle city centre. It is also currently designing a community hub at Crawcrook Centenary Church in County Durham.