Major redevelopment and refurbishment of the Victorian Grade II listed Highfield Street Synagogue in Leicester has been completed, adding a modern foyer, visitors center, exhibition space and other facilities.
The £1.2 million redevelopment was funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund as the centerpiece of a project called Sharing Jewish Heritage in Leicester.
The design was carried out by the firm Stephen George + Partners LLP (SGP) and created an airy modern foyer with glazed walls that links the red brick Synagogue and its schoolrooms wing and provides other accommodation and facilities.
The synagogue, noted for its tower, was designed by Arthur Wakerley and built in 1897-8, and the school building, designed by Wakerley in the same style, was added in 1901.
Kanti Chhapi, Studio Director at SGP, said in an announcement by the firm that SGP had “worked very closely with the Leicester Hebrew Congregation to understand and deliver what the community needed and wanted for their much-loved synagogue. The design is sensitive to the old structure with the new connection being respectful to the original fabric, but distinct and honest, clearly visible but with the original building remaining the focus.”
Anthony Jacobs, Chair of the Leicester Hebrew Congregation said the congregation was “delighted” with the result. “This extension, along with the refurbishment of the existing structure, provides for both the needs of our community and the many visitors we receive each year as part of our ‘Sharing Jewish Heritage’ project,” he said in the announcement. “We are grateful for the generous grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund that allowed us to develop this project in collaboration with SGP.”
SGP said that many elements of the building design were specifically designed for the needs of an active Jewish congregation.
These include mechanical and electrical systems that can be programmed for automatic use on Shabbat and holidays, an elevator that can be used on Shabbat, a system to harvest rainwater for the mikvah, and a roof panel that can open up so the space beneath can serve as a sukkah.
The web site of the Leicester Hebrew Congregation says the synagogue, which is used for regular worship, receives more than 2,500 visitors a year. With the renovation