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Thread: Church interior design considerations

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Church interior design considerations

    Have you ever wondered at the symbolic significance of the interior layouts of various churches, synagogues, and mosques? As a musician and performer, I have seen the insides of a lot of houses of worship, and while some general design features are often shared, there are significant differences in how different sects approach the interior layouts.

    Take one element: the position of the clergy in relation to the congregation. Consider a standard cruciform cathedral design:



    The clergy is located between the sacred (altar) and the congregation (nave). There's nothing accidental about this, and the design embodies or represents a certain underlying religious principle (at least as it relates to the church organization). I've seen other churches, though, that had a more or less 'arena' layout where the clergy stood in the middle and the congregation was seated around the 'stage' I'm not sure if this signifies more egalitarian-based beliefs or not, but clearly the role of the clergy's interactions with the congregation is viewed differently.

    Have you encountered any interesting house of worship interior designs and deduced anything about the organization based on that layout?

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Have you encountered any interesting house of worship interior designs and deduced anything about the organization based on that layout?
    I like churches with statues, stained glass windows, etc... a "traditional" church if you will. I've noticed most evangelical faiths tend to have more of a warehouse style building rather than a traditional church. I like a big organ and the lack of bright light in the building. Not taking into account the faith of the congregation I would be much more attracted to an old historic church than a metal box with a pole sign out front.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I like churches with statues, stained glass windows, etc... a "traditional" church if you will. I've noticed most evangelical faiths tend to have more of a warehouse style building rather than a traditional church. I like a big organ and the lack of bright light in the building. Not taking into account the faith of the congregation I would be much more attracted to an old historic church than a metal box with a pole sign out front.
    Some churches would be delighted to hear this sentiment while others would be mortified. The word 'church' denotes both a body of people and a structure in our language: if a structure attracts or appeals to people for whatever reason that's got to be a good asset for any church organization. At the same time I'm sure there'd be certain bodies of people griping on principal that the attention should be focused on the divine and not the temporal (like a building)

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    At the same time I'm sure there'd be certain bodies of people griping on principal that the attention should be focused on the divine and not the temporal (like a building)
    I can understand that mentality completely.
    A house is not a home without a loving family but that doesn't mean I don't want my home to be a bigger and more elaborate house.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quaker Meeting Houses are organized in a square with pews in rows on all four sides looking onto a small open center area. This is definitely an egalitarian design feature as that is a central tenant of Quakerism - no matter now much money you make or how powerful you are outside the building, inside we are all the same and the intent in Meeting for Worship is to share insights concerning each person's relationship to the Divine. Or something like that. I have seen some Meeting Houses where there is a small section raised up and the current managing committee sits there, but most I have been in are all on the same level.

    The synagogues I have been in tend to employ the stadium style seating with the bima (the raised platform from where the Torah is read and the arc resides) raised above the congregation. But these lines may be crossed. We just passed Simchat Torah that follows the New Year. On this occasion the Torah is rolled back to the beginning, brought down off the bima and paraded around the temple. People follow it and dance and sing and/or touch the Torah as it passes by. It is then returned to the arc (or do they read form it first? I can't remember).
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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