This design was developed from MG's office prize winning entry for the 1988 RIBA competition. The brief called for a new prayer hall seating three hundred people, a hall, classrooms, and other educational, social and administrative facilities, to be added to a centre at Oaks Lane, Newbury Park.
Much attention was given to the way the hall is lit. Directly above the Ark is a 2.4-metre transparent glass dome, or oculus, through which the sky can be clearly observed by all while attending the service. When the sun is out, a bright disc of light falls on a part of the benches, varying with the season and time of day, and the rays temporarily dazzle those who may there be seated.
An ‘eternal light’- a simple oil lamp- is suspended over the ark from the centre of the clear dome, its tiny but intense flame performing as an effective focus for the entire space. A row of small lunettes is set in deep conical reveals at a high level in the extermal wall. The only other source of daylight is a pair of glass doors either side of the hall.
The furniture is all finished in figured birch venner, which offers a pale, very lively surface, to associate with the white walls, fine grey concrete floor slabs, deep blue velvet upholstery, and satin stainless steel door fruniture and fittings.
Client: South West Essex Reform Sinagogue, Oaks Lane, Newbury Park.
Architects: Michael Gold.
Design team: Michael Gold, Robert Griffin, Aage Vallestad, Richard Lomas, Wendy Lyhne.