English Church House
REINFORCING STEEL COMPANY: Engineer
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The building has four reinforced concrete girders of 13,33 m span and 3, 815 m depth designed and engineered by the REINFORCING STEEL CO.
STANDING on a massive plinth of mountain stone, the external walls are carried up in rough blue-hard brickwork with wide mortar joints, while a few bands, copings and dressings are of mountain stone, finished with a punched surface.
The roof is covered with Norwegian green Vroulog slates with boldly projecting eaves, each end being terminated in a simple gable with stone coping. The windows throughout are steel casements set in teak frames, but painted white to form a good contrast with the brickwork.
The disposition of the parts needed a good deal of consideration, and it was finally determined that the hall itself should occupy the ground floor, with main entrance conveniently accessible from Queen Victoria Street. Here a simple doorway through a deeply recessed round arch leads into a vestibule which is flanked on either side by cloak rooms, and leads centrally into the main hall itself. This measures 58 feet (17.68 meters) by 40 feet (12.19 meters) with five large round-headed windows lighting it on each side. Both the vestibule and hall are panelled up to a height of about 7 feet (2.13 meters), while the walls of the hall above this level are pointed in red brickwork, the ceiling being flat and finished in white plaster. The floor of the hall (and elsewhere where wood is required) is finished with Chamfuta wood block flooring. There is a capital stage at the further end, with two retiring rooms for the performers, and a small kitchen suitable for preparing teas and simple food such as may be required at the entertainments, all connected by a back staircase.
The accommodation of the upper floors demands that the ceiling of the hall should be lower than would be expected for a room of this size, and the reinforced concrete construction which spans this is of special interest. Whereas beams of sufficient strength to carry the superstructure across the wide span of 40 (12.19 meters) feet would ordinarily extend so low beneath the ceiling level as to ruin the appearance and sound, an expedient has been resorted to which successfully overcomes the difficulty. The bottom portion of the beams only projects below the ceiling (and this only to the extent of 18 inches (457 mm)); they are extended upwards so as to form partitions dividing the rooms on the first floor.
A good main staircase leads from the vestibule to the upper floors — the first floor being divided into a central passage giving access to five offices on each side. At the further end over the stage, etc., there is a larger room (40 feet (12.19 meters) by 23 feet (7.01 meters), maximum dimensions) which serves as a board room for meetings of the clergy. Conveniently accessible from this is the continuation of the back staircase, which communicates with lavatories on first floor and caretaker's quarters above.
The top floor, which occupies most of the roof space, is arranged as a library in five bays, divided by book-shelves which extend almost to the ceiling. Each bay is lighted at both ends by a dormer window, with shelves or cupboards for books cunningly devised in the roof space beneath the windows.
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