The potential to fund the churches charitable efforts by hosting live music was first recognised by the current Rector of the church, Rev. Al Gordon, leading to major redevelopment work as Al and the Hackney Church team set about future-proofing the space and securing its position at the heart of the Hackney community.
The main brief was to design an audio system that could serve both religious services and offer a rider-friendly install that would enable the venue to host industry-standard live concerts.
A major part of this ambitious project is a stunning d&b installation, set within a breathtaking environment engrained with the principle of helping others by means of music and the arts. As with so many current projects, installation and commissioning had to go ahead with heavy COVID-19 restrictions in place, but a great team effort ensured a successful completion. The venue has now tentatively scheduled its first few socially distanced concerts at the start of December including renowned musical artists James Bay and Lianne La Havas.
“In these dark days, this restoration is a beacon of hope: a cathedral of creativity, playing its part in a spiritual, social and cultural renaissance in East London and beyond” said Rev’d Al Gordon.
Tim Last, one of the Trustees focussing on the production, technical install and commercial set-up explained: “We wanted to create a special place for events that will support the people of East London. I knew d&b is a key player in the audio world and investing up-front in a rider-friendly sound system was crucial to making the venue commercially viable.
“Gigs and events profits go to our various charitable and social impact projects. The main aim was transforming the building to function as both a church and a live-music and arts venue, creating a self-sustaining charity with an income that does not solely rely on donations, allowing us to do more,” he continued.
This acknowledgment of the importance of quality audio to produce successful live music gigs sets St John at Hackney Church apart.
A Grade II* listed building, the main objective of the interior redesign was attention to detail and quality for every aspect. Special features of the church were to be revived and the infrastructure for a state-of-the-art concert venue carefully put into place, including a brand-new PA, backstage and artist facilities as well as other hospitality features.
The architectural redesign team included none other than John Pawson CBE, the ‘father of modern architectural minimalism’. His design of a decluttered, airy and mainly white space makes for a beautiful setting but integrating an audio system into such a pure environment came with particular challenges and needed expert consideration.
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