Friends House set for £4.25m refurb

Friends House in London is set for refurbishment with £4.25m coming from the sale of Courtauld House on a long lease, as trustees seek to maintain the usage of the building while improving the design and making it greener and more accessible to all (images and video in linked page).

The sale of Courtauld House on a long lease has raised £6.6m and £4.25m will be put into the changes at Friends House. However, putting money into the building instead of the financial markets will reduce investment income but the trustees are confident that existing reserves will ensure Quaker work will not be significantly affected, and that sustained bookings over the decades ahead will compensate for this in the long term.

Friends House is the administrative headquarters of Quakers in Britain. A twentieth century listed building, it includes offices for Britain Yearly Meeting’s centrally employed staff, a historic library and a Quaker Centre with worship space, bookshop, cafe and restaurant. The building also operates as a conference and events centre, with rooms let to generate income for Quaker work. Redevelopment has been considered since 2008.

Clerk to the trustees Jonathan Fox said: “We want Friends House to exemplify our Quaker testimonies to simplicity, integrity, peace and equality, and to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability. Friends House is a key piece of our heritage, an asset through which our continuing witness in the world is realised. We have expressed our responsibility for its stewardship and our desire to enable the building to work for us in a manner appropriate to the 21st century.”

The architects are John McAslan + Partners and plans include a skylight concept, in which Quaker artist James Turrell has expressed an interest.

Plans include adding solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, wall insulation, and heat-exchange systems. The improved layout will give people with disabilities the same opportunities as other visitors.

The new refurbishment comes just over 3 months after upgrade plans for 2011 were announced.

The work will start in June 2013 after Yearly Meeting and will take one year to complete. The first Yearly Meeting in the refurbished space will be in 2015, as 2014 is due to be a residential event.

Read more about the trustees’ work here.

3 thoughts on “Friends House set for £4.25m refurb

  1. On Meeting for Sufferings twenty years ago I was constantly frustrated by the YM finance committee which seemed to exist in a 1890s world of stable currency and real interest rates. Seems nothing has changed…

    I appreciate that FH is a ‘front-facing’ resource for the Society, but it really doesn’t witness to the testimony on simplicity does it?

    At Monthly Meetings I constantly harked on about SPENDING money that was given to central funds instead of ‘investing’ it. I stopped contributing to YM funds because I didn’t believe it would be spent wisely. This just confirms my expectations.

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