An i-Lumen-ating experience

I had an odd experience last Friday. I had spent the day at a Business Club run by The Design Trust in a lovely sunny conference centre in Bloomsbury. We had been in the main meeting room all morning, then served lunch in the garden courtyard and attended a seminar in another side room, with the gentle sounds of the general public in the cafe at the front of the building.

Walking back towards the exit at the end of the day, I noticed some small stained glass windows dotted down the corridor. “That’s odd!” I thought… the stained glass was backwards, so I was looking at it the wrong way from the corridor, which meant that the front view was on the other side of the wall. As I followed the corridor down to investigate what was on the other side I was envisioning another meeting space. And then I turned the corner to discover that the cafe was in fact just the front end of a chapel! A chapel within a contemporary conference building? Surprising.

On speaking to the cafe manager, the penny dropped. Lumen was in fact a Church which had been redesigned in 2009 with dwindling congregation numbers in mind and thus rebuilt with the religious space being only one relatively small part of a larger multiple use centre.

Quite apart from being a beautifully designed space, it struck me that if I could spend a day in the building without actually realising it was a church, then the Lumen brand offers a challenging model for religious architecture in the 21st century.

2 thoughts on “An i-Lumen-ating experience

  1. Julia Shepherd says:

    When we started our rebuilding project at Queens Road Baptist Church in Broadstairs , Kent, we decided to keep the exterior of the old church including all its stained glass. Visitors love the way the old is incorporated into the new and have difficulty sometimes believing they are in a church. One of the large stained glass windows depicting the last supper with the inscription ‘do this in remembrance of me’ is in a room originally intended on the architect’s plans to be a toilet….we decided that might not be appropriate (!) so it is now a lovely meeting room in which the window is often used as a backdrop for signing the register wedding photos. Do drop in and see us if you’re ever in Broadstairs.

    • It may not have been appropriate, but it would certainly have raised a few wry smiles! It sounds like a wonderful space – do you have a website or images online

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