Posted in practice on January 1, 2016 3:10 pm EST

Worship Design Progression

A look at how architecture and AVL design interpret shifting culture, economics and theology.

The Crossing in Chesterfield, Mo., is an asymmetrical room deliberately designed to provide a different experience depending on seating location. There are multiple focal points in the stage area, rather than a single focal point, that allows for a variety of different positions to be prioritized. Image courtesy of Idibri.  /  Launch gallery (in new window)


 

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By Jim Kumorek

As with anything, the spaces we create for worship tend to follow trends. And over the past few decades, the changes in worship space design have greatly accelerated. Designer sought out several industry experts to explore current design movements, asking these professionals to look ahead and anticipate what else is going to change over the next decade.

“Worship space design is inevitably driven by culture, theology and economy,” comments Craig Janssen, managing director of Idibri (formerly Acoustic Dimensions) in Dallas. “When you look at those elements, the thing that has shifted most dramatically is the economy. However, culture and the way theology plays out in culture has also changed, and affects how the story plays out in our worship spaces.”

Cultural Shift

In the United States, with the Millennial generation coming of age and the Boomer generation heading into retirement, a cultural trend is that “bigger” is no longer a good thing.

“The ability to fund mega-churches has mostly gone away,” Janssen notes. “And not only are churches smaller, they are more focused and intentional in design. People don’t desire to impress as much as pre-recession; they want effective buildings directly tied to ministry. They want their money to count.” Janssen also points to another issue that’s making it more complicated for churches to “go big.”

In an historical landmark dating back to the 1800s, there was no chance of hanging line arrays. So custom-painted column loudspeakers were installed with steerable digital signal processing (DSP) for controllable sound reinforcement. Images courtesy of Walters-Storyk Design Group.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get zoning permission for a large church,” Janssen explains. “This will be a major problem in more populous areas. The neighborhood community simply won’t allow it. The residents don’t want 3,000 cars driving through their streets each Sunday morning.”

Not only are churches going smaller due to costs, but the basic focus of how the church facility is used is changing, as well. “I do think the moving trend with regard to new facilities is actually looking outside of the space they have,” says Lisa Masteller, owner of Sassafras Studios in Raleigh, N.C. “How can they incorporate the community more? I know of a church in our community that’s building a YMCA adjacent to the church’s café. Another is adding community gardens. The direction is to make something that’s generally useful to the community seven days a week and, ‘Hey, if you desire, you can also check out the church.’”

Reuse of existing spaces and renovating them into worship facilities will continue to trend. It’s cost effective, appeals to the “reuse and repurpose” point of view of the upcoming generations, and often comes with a pre-existing solution to the problem of parking.  continued >>

 

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