Some goals for a religious structure can be symbolized in a building’s physical structure.
The critical events in people’s lives can be symbolized and enhanced by the design of a religious building. The rituals associated with a religious structure should include ceremonies of Birth, Baptism, Growth, Adolescence, Adulthood, Marriage, Maturity, Agedness, Feebleness and Death. These events can be helped by the building’s physical forms that can enhance those functions. Other traditional events like Christmas, Thanksgiving, National Holidays, el Dia de los Muertos (our ancestors), as well as new traditions such as a day for mindfulness (celebrating our living consciousness), or a day for future life (our future descendents) can also be supported. Specifically for a sectarian edifice the wisdom of Nature can be emphasized — Searching, Discovering true data, Testing reality, Finding verified knowledge, Challenging falsifiable beliefs, Applying constructive wisdom, Demonstrating thankfulness with actions. All of these are combined with the people themselves coming together at the structure.
How a sectarian fellowship structure might look and feel
The entryway is an outside place for coming together from distant places; the courtyard is an open pause before the buildings entry; the seating becomes a combining into a unity and a settling into the community; becoming a member of the community is a declaration spoken before the assembled group on the raised platform as an agreement to be faithful with them and their goals, and the individual life passing beyond the community into immortality can be commemorated before all at this place. The platform is where the search for wisdom is proclaimed before the assembled group.
You enter the structure from outside through a portal into an enclosed but welcoming courtyard with a mirror pond in the center like a Roman villa, or the Taj Mahal, but more curvilinear and comfortable than rectilinear or severe, more calm, personal and not grandiose. You walk around the modest pond, which reflects the structure before and around you, and the people on the other side, as you approach the assembly building entrance. There you pass through a narrowing dimly lit passage (with doors to either side that end in short passages to other building functions), and then you enter into the back of the main assembly room. It is spacious, luminous and curvilinear with a raised platform altar space at the opposite end. The aisles curve off to either side and around to the front, and not straight to it, a repeat of the original entry into the courtyard, but inside the building the reflective pond is replaced by the people of the congregation. It is designed with a feeling of flow, stability and inclusiveness. The ceiling is arching overhead in smooth curves high enough to have an open feeling but not soaring into infinity, because this is an inclusive space rather than a place of soaring and escaping into another place.
The goal is to create a feeling of welcoming, acceptance and belonging, but not to inspire any particular interest in the building itself. The building is only a means to the end of supporting the people’s goals of joining together in contentment. Curves and smooth surfaces, and light pastel colors throughout imply welcome, and they are the opposite of straight, hard, shiny, sharp, pointy things, with strong colors of red, yellow, black which imply threat and rejection. Those forceful rejecting things are what are minimally present, and only appear as small details for contrast. The building is made for real human comfort and a joining together in contentment and not for unlivable modern architectural styling or unachievable fantasy goals. The goals are real and for maximizing individual human potential for good deeds.
There are famous examples of existing buildings which illustrate some of these ideas. The Vatican of Rome has an open front yard, enclosed by a high curving wall, and it is easy to enter or depart at first, and it creates an inclusive catholic feeling, but further in it becomes powerful and imposing and makes the person inside feel small, like an unimportant piece of an enormous entity and perhaps personally humiliated by the grandeur. There is a wall of columns all around which seem a like bars in a jail confining you inside.
In contrast the old Temple in Jerusalem, seen now only in a model, is an example of the opposite of inclusive. It had a very high crenelated defensive wall with tiny entrances easily closed off to everyone. Within the outer wall was a huge inner courtyard, and within that a similarly defended high wall and another tiny but very tough, closed and armored gate, and within that yet another inner court and building similarly defended and rejecting. Everything about this structure is massively rectilinear and designed to keep people out! At the center of it all was the unreachable scroll of God’s wisdom.
The new religious structure is intended to be welcoming and the Vatican and Temple should be used as examples of what not to do for that goal. Ours should be a place of easily finding understanding, welcoming, acceptance, cohesion and comfort with the universal realities. It is a welcoming into our natural reality for all those who choose to enter, and not a place of paranoid protectionism, avoidance and fantasy, but one of bringing every person toward the revealed wisdom of knowable, testable truths.
Some links to building designs to stimulate imagination
The links below are provided not as recommendations, but as spurs to creative thoughts on how to achieve our community goals. The latitude/longitudes are for use with GoogleEarth.com where you can click local icons and see pictures and videos.
Disciples of Christ, Oakland CA ( 37.81, -122.26 ) Martin Luther, Catholic Qatar ( 25.2125, 51.522 ) 2, Church design, Dead Sea Scrolls, Model of Jereusalem ( 31.7735, 35.203 ), Temple Mount, Taj Mahal ( 27.175, 78.042 ), St. Peters, Rome ( 41.902, 12.455 ), Pantheon, Rome ( 41.8986, 12.4770 ), Beautiful Churches, Paris Pantheon ( 48.846, 2.346 ) 2, Charleston, SC. ( 32.7785, -79.9344 ) video, video, Assembly church, Art at Heart, Rainbow interior, Ceiling design, Approaching Church,
Everything they should do for me, I will do for them.