Senior Architect Bruno Bernardo led a site visit to St. George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich for a group of colleagues from the London office. The Grade II listed site is a ruin of a late XIX century Victorian church, hit by a V2 flying bomb in 1944. Included in the Heritage at Risk Register since 2000, Purcell was commissioned with the task to carry out the necessary conservation works in order to remove the building from the register. These works to the still consecrated church (and memorial garden) are to be completed in the Spring and included much needed structural repairs, as well as careful conservation and restoration of the surviving decorative elements – including the ceramic tiles, alabaster and stonework.
A conservation strategy and philosophy was agreed at the very start of the project, which ensured every decision made through the course of the project was consistent and justifiable. The biggest challenge was, however, the particular environment of the site. The site is external, while the conservation issues being dealt with are normally associated with internal finishes. A thoughtful process of understanding and achieving a balanced proposal between preservation and restoration, taking into account the accelerated rate of decay which is bound to happen in an open environment, was key to the success of the project overall.