The Scroll Church in Watford is a new mixed use development combining a church, community centre and houses. The project has been procured as joint venture with a developer.
The design for the new St Thomas’ Watford church celebrates Watford’s historical paper making industry in the form of a religious scroll. During the industrial revolution the Grand Union canal enabled paper-making mills to be sited at Croxley. The John Dickinson and Co mill manufactured the Croxley brand of fine quality paper that later led to Watford becoming an important centre for printing. The nature of the Nascot conservation area is the variety of feature buildings and it is within this context that the design for St Thomas’ church was conceived.
The scroll starts as a woven ribbon of wall from the garden entrance at the rear and the Langley Road entrance at the front running through the ground floor café and church spaces before rising and curling upwards to form the worship space. The scroll with its religious references creates a landmark on the west of the site, clearly viewed from Langley Road and signifies a church with its spire-like form.
The exterior surface of the scroll will consist of glazed tiling similar in colour to the creamy white gault brickwork seen in the Conservation area. Twelve small coloured glass windows representing the Apostles within the scroll will allow shafts of coloured light into the main church space from the south. The windows have been grouped on the south elevation not only to create an intensity of light within the church but so that the tallest area of the scroll and alter below are lit solely by the large rooflight from above
The remainder of the church will be patterned soft yellow/grey London stock brickwork that also matches the majority of Victorian buildings in the area. The new church building will be a contemporary interpretation of two historical and contextual ideas: paper-making and religious scripture, within a contemporary building that is nevertheless constructed of deeply contextual materials and detailing.