Theory, meaning and experience in church architecture : an investigation into the influences of buildings upon worship and spirituality and their implications for the design and ordering of churches
This work attempts to study the relationship between buildings - principally churches - and religion, "religion" meaning worship and spirituality. It aims to study church architecture from a variety of different angles or viewpoints, contrasting with many previous studies, which tend to employ only one approach. Three basic concepts are defined - Theory, Meaning, and Experience - which, while interrelated in practice, are ultimately separate things. Section 1 is a condensed account of three basic religious architectural theories, or ways in which architecture and places are understood in specifically religious/theological terms. Section 2 applies the study of architectural meaning to churches, proceeding from a chronological resume of church architectural meaning in history. It applies the concepts of semiology or semiotics to church architectural meaning, and distinguishes between specific systems of architectural meaning, and loose connotation and association. Section 3 outlines various ways in which religion and spirituality maybe affected by buildings, including the effects of aesthetic factors such as design rules, proportion, light and darkness, etc., and examines reported instances of religious/spiritual experience from the point of view of place(s) and aesthetics. By way of these studies, it is suggested that experience of space and spiritual experience may be intimately linked, but that experience(s) of, and in, buildings can in no way necessarily be determined, anticipated, or found to be constant. Section 4 argues that church buildings have to be made, and regarded, as places that are by nature special and of special significance, and suggests that architects, in creating new churches (or re-ordering existing buildings) take account of the factors discussed in sections 2 and 3, in an attempt, wherever possible, to enrich the experience of worship and spirituality by means of making places which provide more than the essential requirements of liturgy.