NGMH renovation: rapporteur report, March 2020

Words and images by Marcus Duran, New Unity’s project rapporteur.

The renovation of the Newington Green Meeting House is happening with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Date: Tuesday 3rd March 2020

This is the final straight.

A sense of “very-near-completion” binds all of the spaces throughout. From the old to the new, refurbished, reimagined or simply untouched, everything’s coming into sharp focus. Much of this is evidenced in the functional trappings that are being added on the day of the rapporteur’s visit. These include, amongst other things, the wiring of light switches, laying of Yorkstone on the new staircase to the basement, hanging of lights and some final bits of tilling in the kitchen and bathroom.

The four elegant halo-like lights hanging above the main body of the Meeting House illuminate the sea of plastic polythene protecting all of the pews below. The shape and design of the new lighting has helped to bring a depth that was previously lacking in this space.

During the previous week a team of AV specialists came in to install the brand new audio-visual system. In both front corners of the main space, two white speakers hang on the walls. Their colour (white) and the method of their installation has made them very unobtrusive, almost as though they are floating in mid-air. Running sandwiched beneath and along the front lip of the main stage, a group of black circular incisions denote a set of subwoofer speakers, which should eventually bring a deep warmth to the amplified sound. Finally, the last floating element is the automated projection screen. On the far opposite side of the projector where the organ once stood is the small control booth that will hold all of the relevant AV equipment, including projector and audio mixing desk.

The main entrance to the building, both on the outside and inside, is almost complete. You now see how new visitors, stepping into the building for the first time, will have a much greater sense of the space they are entering. Visibility and transparency is featured in a lot of the details, including an insulated glass box that encloses the door to the outside.

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