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Manresa House, Birmingham

Photo credit: Phil Etchells & Chirs Wells OMI Architects

Client: The Society of Jesus

Location: Birmingham

Cost: £6M

Project Type: Community / Residential

Working with The Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits, the practice supported the community to alter and extend their existing novitiate in Harborne, Birmingham known as Manresa House alongside OMI Architects. Envisaged as a ‘monastery in the city’ the novitiate is a place of residence and training for prospective members of the Society who come to live at the house during the first two years of their training. This group of ‘novices’ is supported by a small group of permanent residents. The scheme, developed in close collaboration with the community, saw the renewal of the accommodation to include Novice and Guest rooms, a dining room, kitchen, offices, meeting rooms, library and a new chapel, through a combination of refurbishment and new build interventions to the existing Victorian villa. Guided by St Paul’s invitation for ‘Laudato Si’ (care for our common land) the landscape scheme seeks to bring the community close to God and nature through celebrating the ephemeral qualities of place and time, the selection/detailing of material to articulate a sense of homeliness, the relocation and reuse of the existing garden plants and elements; purposely intended to bring a sense of continuity and renewal to the refreshed novitiate.

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The scheme has been designed to achieve BREEAM excellent. The final soft works package was recently installed.