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The Building: Problem or Solution?

30/06/2010 by architectural competitions

Winning entries will illustrate creativity within realistic parameters, challenging the limited thought that produces buildings that are similar to the types of buildings that religious communities have always built, but that may not truly stand as solutions to the problems of the 21st century religious congregation. We hope to generate ideas that a congregation will find aesthetically pleasing and inspiring, that preserve a sense of the sacred, and a space for contemplation and worship, but that integrate completely into their communities and that lend themselves to diverse and efficient use in ways that serve those communities.

In our work with congregations, Faith in Place staff find that many congregations feel saddled with outdated structures that were designed for an earlier period. Many of these buildings are inspiringly beautiful, and were built at great sacrifice by the then-members of their congregations, perhaps when congregations were larger, and perhaps when there were more laborers within them who could donate their labor. Certainly, many of them were built at a time when religion was more austere, and celebrated with a more white-gloved formality than exists in many current congregations. We may mourn the mystery and solemnity of those times, but to long for their return is not to solve the problems of the modern congregation. Nor is the environmental footprint of these earlier buildings one to be emulated under modern, carbon-constrained circumstances. Buildings today need to be used, and used well.

When congregations decide to build they often use these older structures as a roadmap for what a religious building looks like. We issue this call for ideas because we observe that many of the religious buildings currently in use have become problems, even though they were designed to be solutions. Perhaps, though, they are solutions for problems that existed in the Renaissance, when their prototypes were designed! Can we create an array of new designs that are solutions to the problems we have now? How can religious architecture again present the building as solution to the problems of the modern religious organization?

Competition Goals

The competition’s primary mission is the development of an array of ideas that will assist congregations in the future when they contemplate significant remodeling or new building programs. It is our hope that they will decide to create buildings that are active and full of life at all times of the week, that use their spaces well and serve their communities well. And because the buildings are serving communities as a whole and are in active use, it is our hope that they will not be burdens to their congregations, but solutions for the array of problems to which religious bodies address themselves. Assuredly, this includes holding a space for sacred contemplation. But it also includes education and care of the young, advocacy with the poor and disempowered, civic engagement on critical issues of policy, and more.

Winning Entry
The winners will be notified through the “primary contact” for each winning team.Winners will be posted immediately on the website. All competitors will be credited by Faith in Place on its website. Faith in Place is not responsible for proper crediting by any third party publications or press. The winners will be invited to participate in a panel discussion during the week of September 20, 2010, and will be honored at the annual Faith in Place Harvest Celebration on October 3, 2010.

Key Dates

August 15, 2010: Registration closes
August 31, 2010: Submission Deadline

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