Posted in From the Editor on August 8, 2014 10:43 am EDT

Design Helps Raise Up a New Generation

What can an architect learn at a church-focused conference? Plenty. And they can get life-changing work, as well. Case in point: Kampala, Uganda.

Watoto central campus rendering in Kampala, Uganda, courtesy of Live Design Group.









Sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter Designer Today to stay up to date with all we do at Designer and with what's going on in the field of house of worship architecture.


TAGS: architecture, collaboration, education, philanthropy,


By Carol Badaracco Padgett

I relay a story from architect and friend Aubrey Garrison III, AIA emeritus and principal of Live Design Group in Birmingham, Ala., who attended an All Access ARC Conference ( in 2013 to inform church-planting pastors and to grow his business opportunities. Garrison went to educate, and took away a few lessons along the way.

At ARC in the Live Design booth, in walked Pastor Gary Skinner from Watoto Church in Kampala, Uganda, and frequent guest preacher at Australia’s Hillsong Church. His question to Garrison, “All we use in Uganda is concrete. Can you use that?” Garrison responded yes, showing images of Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Fla., a recent Live Design Group project composed of the material.

... half the population in Uganda is orphans under the age of 15, a sad fact from war and AIDs.

Now here comes the rub for Designer's July/Aug 2014 education-focused issue. Garrison learned from Skinner that half the population in Uganda is orphans under the age of 15, a sad fact from war and AIDs. Yet Skinner’s goal at Watoto is to raise up the children to change the very landscape of their country. “Watoto means ‘children,’” Garrison notes. “Skinner instills in them that they have the ability to change their country.”

Moved by the mission and vision of Watoto and armed with comrade and AVL designer Armando Fullwood of Wave in Charlotte, N.C., Garrison went to Uganda to meet with Skinner and the church’s staff and conduct a “Live” design, integrated project delivery-type session to design the future worship and education spaces—indeed, the very living and growing spaces—of these children.

Garrison reports that Watoto had a landmark celebration earlier this summer to commemorate three things: 30 years of the Watoto Church’s existence; 20 years of its Living Hope ministry that supports women who were child soldiers and sex slaves in Uganda; and 40 years of marriage for Skinner and his wife, Marilyn.

Watch for unfolding updates and images on Live Design’s Watoto project here: (visit link). And learn more about Live Design Group at: (visit link)



What people are saying


 Add your comment:


Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?


Please enter the word you see in the image below: