Posted in practice on August 16, 2016 5:11 am EDT

6 Design Trends of Note Heading into 2017

Issues of indoor/outdoor spatial flow patterns and integration of technology are just a few of the key directions impacting house of worship design.

YMCA + Crosspointe Church, Cary, N.C. Images courtesy of Sassafras Studios.











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TAGS: architectural design, business, collaboration, interior design, sustainability,


By Keith Loria

Things change fast these days and savvy architects, engineers and consultants know they need to stay on top of the latest advancements if they’re going to be successful in the house of worship space. Here are six architectural trends that industry experts report will be prevalent in church spaces heading into 2017 ,,, and beyond.

1. An Organic Mindset Architect Lisa Masteller of Sassafras Studios in Raleigh, N.C., notes that this is a trend that helps eliminate our selfish nature and helps convey a Christ-like manner to each other and the world. Things that need to be considered for a worship space in this regard include adding larger windows to allow for more natural light; using raw materials such as different colors of wood tones, stone, concrete and raw metal; and opening rooms by playing with ceiling levels and using simple soffit and trellis applications, rather than walls, to define common spaces. In terms of interior design in particular, she notes, “There is also a resurgence in incorporating plants in unique and creative ways, using various shaped planter boxes and hanging elements."

Versado common space; Durham, N.C.

2. Integrating Technology Into Sacred Spaces James E, Theimer, principal architect with Trilogy Architecture in Redding, Calif., notes this is a trend that has been going on a while, but with recent changes in wireless technology and video graphic technology, more and more worship spaces are looking to update these features. “It doesn’t always feel right to put a TV screen in a worship hall, but we see over the next couple of years, looking for ways to hide the technology while still applying it,” he says.

3. AVL Technology Connectivity Mark Holsinger, project designer at Omniplan Architects in Dallas says connectivity is the buzz word when it comes to technology, such as integrating digital functions like a virtual pastor or Wi-Fi to connect to multiple campuses seamlessly. “It’s about connecting multiple campuses in real time and figuring out a way to have members be connected through their phones or apps to the worship experience.”

4. Indoor/Outdoor Spatial Flow Patterns Creating an open concept is becoming more in vogue and it’s a trend that will continue in 2017, according to Masteller. “More lobbies are trending toward [increased] ‘headroom/shoulder-room,’ giving you the feeling of expanse due to many churches' flux between services,” she says. “Considerations for outdoor seating are being made if budget allows. Conversation is the most important activity filling a campus on any given day, and when you cater to people’s needs to meet, pray and give insight, natural growth on a spiritual level will take place.” Theimer agrees that connecting indoors to outdoors will be vital in the years ahead. “It’s about not making such a rigid separation between the two. Years ago this was seen as potentially a negative, but the reality is that you’re seeing more examples of creating that connection, such as walls that open to the outdoors and big glass areas to look out onto gardens.”

Versado common space; Durham, N.C.

5. Rethinking The Shape Of Churches The big box retail version of a church is not where architects want to go; they want to have a unique form, but according to Theimer, it’s not the unique form it used to be. “The trend is materiality -- building churches out of metal and concrete is allowing us to be a little more creative as to the look of the church,” he says. “When you combine that with the idea you can make something iconic in shape, and connect it to outdoors, you get some great possibilities for church design.”

6. Helping the Community -- Even More The idea of a church becoming more than just a Sunday venue has been around for awhile, but it’s very important in the future of church design, according to the experts Church Designer queried. Holsinger says more churches are focused on providing amenity-rich spaces that engage the community, such as coffee shops, conference centers and indoor play environments [for] the kids. “Soon they will be seen as a 24/7 place to go to socialize, have study groups, do business, and engage the community more,” he says. “Flexibility is important as well because a myriad of things can change, and the building needs to respond.”





Learn more about the companies in this story:



Sassafras Studios


Trilogy Architecture



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