Posted in projects on September 1, 2016 3:45 pm EDT

From Church to Sound Studio: A Journey of Adaptive Reuse

London's The Church Studios, a mixed- and adaptive-reuse venture unlike any other, garners a NAMM TEC nomination for Walters-Storyk Design Group for Best Recording Studio Design 2015.

The Church Studios, London, UK, control room. Image courtesy of WSDG.











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TAGS: acoustics, adaptive reuse, architectural design, avl design, mixed use, production, recording,


By Church Designer Staff

New York, N.Y.-based Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) announces a NAMM TEC Award nomination for Best Recording Studio Design 2015 for Paul Epworth’s The Church Studios. In the year since this iconic London studio had a world class architectural and acoustic renovation under Grammy Award winning producer Epworth’s leadership, its client list has included: Adele, U2, Usher, and others.

History of The Church Studios

In its 160 year-plus life, the magnificent and iconic church building in Crouch End has been put to some very interesting use. Built in the 1850s, it existed solely for religious purposes for well over a century, serving local residents of the Agapemonite sect. Its life as a place of worship remained largely unchanged until the many social changes that took place in the second half of the 20th Century led to the building becoming in much demand with the creative industries. As a result The Church eventually split into two halves; one which serves to this day as a traditional church, and the other which since the early 1980s has been through a procession of creative studio ventures which have made large contributions towards Crouch End's arts heritage.

Studio One at The Church Studios, London, UK. Image courtesy of The Church Studios.

The first infiltration of creatives came in the form of various artists, the most influential of whom were the acclaimed animators Bob Bura and John Hardwick who had together been tasting success since the 1950s with their creations Captain Pugwash, Camberwick Green and Trumpton. Bura and Hardwick purchased the building at the start of the 1980s, and by '84 were renting the vast upstairs church room to Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox of the then newly-formed Eurythmics. Stewart and Lennox converted the space into a brand new recording studio where they completed their debut album, 1984's Sweet Dreams, and from that moment on The Church Studios was an established marker on the London recording map.

As The Eurythmics' fame and fortune grew to huge heights over the remainder of the 1980s and beyond, they purchased the building from Bura and Hardwick and set about building on its legacy. Much of the band's own catalogue was recorded here, as was Dave Stewart's many other projects. But The Church also went on to welcome anyone from Bob Dylan to Radiohead, Elvis Costello to Depeche Mode, and My Bloody Valentine to David Gray, the latter of whom brought the studio into a new era in 2004 when he acquired its ownership exactly 20 years after the release of Sweet Dreams.

David Gray's tenure at the building lasted for the best part of a decade. However this period coincided with a dramatically changing landscape for the music industry, one in which numerous other prominent London recording studios fell victim to the destructive decline of record sales and label budgets. In 2013, by which time Gray had made the decision to move on, The Church too seemed under serious threat of being forced into the hands of property developers much to the sadness of the local community who rallied to keep the building's creative legacy alive and well.  continued >>