star of the sea
Giles Gilbert Scott’s original drawings for the Catholic Church in Broadstairs included a presbytery and community facilities in adjacent buildings but these were not built. As an alternative, the parish purchased two detached houses in St Peters Road, the gardens of which adjoined the church site. One of the houses is still in use as a presbytery. The other was used for many years as a parish centre, but it was extremely limited in terms of flexibility of space and accessibility and the parish community eventually decided it was no longer fit for purpose and to use the revenue from its sale to fund a better provision.
Green Tea Architects were commissioned by the parish to prepare an alternative design. The local heritage officer was enthusiastic about the siting chosen by Green Tea Architects for the new building, directly opposite the main doors of the church, creating what he termed a 'Gave', sacred courtyard, between the two buildings. The parish’s clear vision for the building’s function, and the planning department’s feedback, lead to the choice of flint, dressed stone and cedar shingles for the exterior, presenting a building compatible with local construction traditions but contemporary in all other respects.
Budget restraints resulted in the rejection of high insulation structural timber frame construction in favour of a steel frame with insulated blockwork inner leaf and either cedar shingles or flint masonry outer leaf. The smaller building echoes the plan form of the church but introduces a new architectural element – the light mill. The steel frame reduced the extent of exposed structure and created a light spacious interior to the hall.