Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wayfinding Wallpaper

"Wayfinder is a line of wallpaper designed to serve a functional purpose within the context of architecture. Wallpaper is typically decorative. Symbols are typically functional. The combination of the two creates new possibilities for architects, interior designers and space planners."

And churches...these are an interesting solution for larger buildings in which bold wayfinding is needed, for contemporary retrofits, and for older church spaces in which the bathrooms are hidden down a hallway and difficult to find!  They would also be a great graphic addition to a youth space.

The Wayfinder wallpaper is by Mike and Maaike Inc, manufactured by Rollout.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On Starting Spiritually

This image from the Gensler Biola University classroom-to-chapel project reminded me of how important it is to start a sacred project with the enunciation of a sacred vision.  For this chapel, that was a juxtaposition of the physical place of the chapel--deep in a building--with a spiritual place--the depths from which we cry--both made for prayer.

The first thing that you tell your architects should be your spiritual vision.  And if you don't have that, you're not ready to build.

Here's what went to our architects, in their very first brief, before we had talked about much of anything regarding the physical form of the church.
beacon hill owasso
“A key scripture for the church is Psalms 43:3-4: “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy.” 
“Below are the outlines of the pastor's sermon taken from the church’s guiding scriptures, and which contain some key concepts that are important for the site, particularly of beacon and pathway. 
Church Building
1. There is needed a beacon of light and of truth. (O send out thy light and thy truth)
2.  God must send it out. (O send out thy light and thy truth)
3.  God will give us a pathway to follow. (let them lead me)
4.  Then holiness will follow (let them bring me unto thy holy hill)
5.  Then God’s presence will be known (and to thy tabernacles)
6.  Then service will be sanctified (then will I go unto the altar of God)
7.  Then joy and its expression will be real. (unto God my exceeding joy)"
You're not ready to build if you can't enunciate your spiritual vision, and if your architects can't connect with it, they're not your builders.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Classroom to Chapel

Those who are retrofitting existing spaces should also be inspired by the conversion of a windowless basement classroom to a prayer chapel by architects Gensler for Biola University in California.

To banish the 'classroom' feel, the chapel was given curved walls, an undulating ceiling and not a single square corner.

"Recycled strips of timber were mixed with wood harvested from olive trees around the campus to create the uneven finish of the chapel's timber ceiling...A narrow skylight creates a band of light across the ceiling at one end and illuminated glass blocks create brightly coloured windows in the curved interior walls, but offer no views to the rooms beyond."

This is an uncharacteristically small project for Gensler, an enormous firm with a world-wide reach, whose annual design forecasts are interesting reading for those seriously thinking about how the physical space of the church responds to cultural trends.  

[images and quoted text via dezeen]

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Alvar Aalto on Good Church Design

A church...needs pure and devout forms, whatever these forms may be.   
Purity of form can only arise from careful and highly developed artistic work, which calls for a dedicated and highly developed artist. 
 -Alvar Aalto

Friday, May 3, 2013

Beacon Hill Baptist Church Design in Architect's Journal!

And since I haven't posted in awhile I"ll take this opportunity to say that I'm incredibly pleased that the designs for my church's new building were featured last spring in Architect's Journal  as part of their special issue on Faith.   You can read the entire article from the images below.
beacon hill owasso

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Timber on the inside

Our new church design includes a series of simple vertical wooden elements that repeat around the glass worship space, and on the  porches of the surrounding buildings
beacon hill owasso

Two things that (at least in the Western tradition) intuitively speak to us of 'sacred space' are verticality and repetition.  Think the columns of a cathedral.  But using thin, wooden timbers is a lovely way to enable a space to feel the same way in a more modern (and affordable!) idiom, and within a smaller area.

Witness the ski resort cafe, below, by Japanese studio Design Spirits, which feels startlingly church-like:

The project was a retrofit of an existing interior space, and was completed in just 45 days, which should be inspiration for any church congregation faced with refitting a secular space to sacred purpose.

(photos via dezeen)
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