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New Salvation Army centre made special and striking with ROCKPANEL

Winner of the ACE/RIBA Award for Religious Architecture 2009

The new Salvation Army Church and Community centre in Chelmsford, Essex is situated on an un- promising site severely compromised by traffic planners some 40 years earlier. And yet with ingenuity and flair, Hudson Architects have created a building which is strong and striking on the one hand, and simple and practical on the other.

The Citadel Corps, as it’s known, replaces a 1970s building which was badly planned, costly to run, and no longer fit for purpose for its owners. The design brief for Hudson Architects was to create a more practical and usable space within a new building, and one which would reflect the changing and modern face of the Salvation Army. With a limited budget of £2 million for the 900 square metre building, cost efficiency and speed were also paramount.

The Salvation Army required the new building to be flexible and multi-purpose to support the needs of the church and community. Thus the building needed to include catering facilities, an assembly hall, kids’ creative and outdoor areas, a sports hall, meeting rooms, a hall for worship and singing, and numerous store rooms for all the Sally Army band’s instruments!

Gareth Puttock, Project Architect from Hudson Architects says, “Our aim was to create a cutting edge design under tight budget constraints, with the Salvation Army’s striking international headquarters building in central London as our initial reference point.

To achieve this, we selected materials based on a number of criteria. Firstly, we wanted to use materials which were ‘special’ and ‘interesting’ to make the building very unique. Secondly, because of budget constraints all materials had to be low cost and quick and easy to install. And thirdly we were committed to using sustainable products wherever possible. When we compared the cladding materials on the market, ROCKPANEL scored highly on all fronts.

We found that ROCKPANEL was available in a huge range of finishes and colours and this allowed us to select a product which complemented the zinc panelling we had chosen. We also found that the ROCKPANEL boards were so easy to use that we were able to do something really special to give the building a bespoke feel.

ROCKPANEL is low cost and because it’s easy to install this saved the project time and costs. We were also very impressed with the quality and longevity of the material and its sustainability aspects which make it an ideal choice for environmental reasons.”

The structural shell of the Citadel Corps is made of timber, which allowed the building to go up in just 24 days. And on the outside, the zinc panelling combined with ROCKPANEL Rockclad were both quick and easy to install.

On the full east elevation, ROCKPANEL Rockclad Red was chosen to reflect the Salvation Army’s branding. The elevation is made unique because of the subtle yet striking iconography etched into the board material in the form of a tree, using significant biblical references as tree-like branches to reflect the mission of the Salvation Army. The design was created by CAD and etched onto the board material with a CHC router.

And in the internal courtyard ROCKPANEL Rockclad in shades of yellow and green were selected to give a light, airy and outdoors feel to the area.

The Citadel Corps building is unusual and startling yet it manages to reflect and complement its immediate environment. Hudson Architects have demonstrated through their creative approach that unfortunate and prominent left-over sites can be transformed by high quality architecture and the innovative use of materials.

The success of the new building is also contributing to achieving a more modern image of the Salvation Army within the local community of Chelmsford.


Wern Tarw
Pencoed Bridgend
CF35 6NY
Tel.: +44 (1656) 863 210
Fax: +44 (1656) 863 611
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