When designing a new Augustinian Centre to the rear of the 1917 St Augustine’s Church and Priory in Hammersmith we wanted to liberate the apse from its accretions of the 1960s. We stripped back the church interior to reveal a wonderful timber structure and stone columns
In rerranging the sacristy we reused the beautiful green Portuguese marble that had once clad the high altar and inlaid it within the new limestone floor to form one of three elements that denote the sacred place of the altar.
The cast iron ring suspended above is a nod to the ‘Tin Cathedral’, a temporary tabernacle erected while the church was being built, but its shape came from the spatial ordering of the sanctuary. It offers a heavy weighted element that hangs over the Venetian plaster form of ceramic artist Julian Stair’s altar (not shown). The materiality of the cast iron elucidates the purity of this sacred space. On its inside edge are cast the words Veritas Unitas Caritas, representing Augustinian principles, in a font designed by John Morgan, while its convex section allowed for an LED light to offer a soft glow to the ring without illuminating the space.
We worked with Hargreaves Foundry in Halifax. The rough and textured casting of the ring juxtaposes the purity of the space and is fundamental to the design. The surface to the underside of the ring is hand-scribed, to give the piece movement and depth.