Army International HQ and St Paul’s Cathedral
Army Building, Queen Victoria Street facade
The chapel of the new International
Headquarters of the Salvation Army (2004) is the latest addition to the
City Churches. It takes the
form of a tiny triangular projection over the main entrance to the
building, so everyone enters ‘under prayer’. Anish Kapoor was originally chosen to design the chapel but
in the event it was done by Carpenter Lowing working with Sheppard Robson,
who designed the main building.
The Salvation Army have been on the site between
Queen Victoria Street, Lambeth Hill, Booth Lane and Peter’s Hill since
1881. Their first building
was destroyed in the Blitz and the second demolished as part of the
Millennium Bridge scheme, which created a pedestrian route linking St
Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern. The Salvation Army paid for
rebuilding, by moving staff overseeing their domestic work in to the
Elephant and Castle and renting two thirds of the new building as
The Salvation Army
building is an office-block-cum-religious-building on a site overlooked by
St Paul’s and passed by large numbers of tourists and Londoners every
day. It takes the form
of a steel framed box with glass curtain walls reflecting surrounding
buildings. Aside from the
chapel the only decoration on the building is the organisation’s name
and logo in red and quotations from the Bible on the lines of ‘Jesus
said I am the light of the world’ written on the facade at eye level.
In the dark the building sheds light on its surroundings.
|The Salvation Army
focuses on the disadvantaged, feeds the hungry and helps the homeless.
Recently it has started to help families trace missing relatives
who risk becoming homeless. Food,
both in its own right and as a symbol of home and family, has always been
key to its work. And, although the International Headquarters is primarily an
office block, it welcomes the public into its basement level café, named
Café 101 after the building’s longstanding address, 101 Queen Victoria
Street. The café, which
stretches the whole width of the building, is given cathedral like
proportions of three stories high around its fringes, achieved by large
concrete A frames which support the front of the building.
Since the site slopes steeply down to the River Thames on the Booth
Lane side, the café is above ground level to the south.
This and the very high ceilings at its fringes flood it with light,
like a Wren church.
Finally, like most
City churches, the Salvation Army building pays tribute to the spiritual
importance of gardens. The
Queen Victoria Street facade is lined by trees, a very rare feature in the
City, and the café looks out onto a little garden in Booth Lane.
First published Cityguide, Winter 2007-8