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Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 10:38 UK
Futuristic church creates a stir
Salvation Army citadel in Chelmsford
The building's striking architecture is difficult to miss as you head into town

Chelmsford's Salvation Army citadel has quickly become one of the most striking and innovative buildings in the town.

The glass and steel fronted building was opened in March 2009 and cost around £2.6 million to construct.

Designed by Hudson Architects in to meet the needs of the congregation, it is unique compared to other Salvation Army buildings around the country.

"Whether you like it or you don't, you know where the Salvation Army is," said church minister Major Alan Watters

"I think there's been a huge amount of interest from the public," he added.

"Obviously, a modern building of this nature is going to cause people to look, think and debate and that's good.

Salvation Army citadel in Chelmsford
The new building cost approximately 2.6 million

"But in the main, the reaction has been favourable - particularly once people have come into the building."

Situated on the site of the previous citadel between the Odeon and Army & Navy roundabouts, the building is difficult to miss as you drive along Parkway.

From the outside, the most striking feature of the building is its large multi-coloured glass 'spire' which, in the afternoon, shines a rainbow of colour across the dual-carriageway.

Inside the building, there is an open-plan reception and cafe area, which leads into the main hall, which seats 320 people and features full range of multi-media facilities.

As well as the main worship area, the building also has a number of multi-purpose rooms, fully-fitted stainless steel kitchen, courtyard and sports hall.

Alan said the building's unusual design and facilities have drawn in people off the street who are not necessarily associated with the church and hopes it will become an important part of local community life.

"I think every part of this building, the way it has been designed, means we cater for all kinds of people here," he said. "The worship hall is just fabulous, the sports hall is something very unique I guess for a church.

Courtyard of the Salvation Army citadel
The large courtyard ican be used for many purposes

"Some have also been asking whether it is fine to hire rooms, so we've had a lot of interest.

"For Sunday worship, we've had new people just walk in off the street, some have returned Sunday after Sunday, others have come and headed off elsewhere. But it's been great."

Alan is delighted with the facilities they now have at their disposal, but said it is difficult to pin down just one favourite room.

"I guess one of the rooms which is very special for me is the small room that's off the reception area," he said.

"It's a multi-purpose room that can be used for all types of things and there's just a nice feel to it - it's nice and open and bright and transparent.

"And that's what we want. We want our church to be transparent. We want people to come and see and feel and know that they're welcome and safe."




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