Date of Award
Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]
While creating for religious use, designers should ask what interventions will transform the secular into the sacred. Spaces used for worship should have qualities that enhance the mission of the church and the religious activities occurring within. These qualities include the use of light to suggest spiritual illumination, acoustics to enhance the congregation’s experience of music and sacred speech, materials that projects beauty within believers , and an environment separate from worldly distractions.
The client for this project is a megachurch congregation. Most of these churches are disinterested or in denial of church typology principles, resulting in spaces that lack emotional resonance and hamper consideration of the sacred. With roots in 19th century Religious Revivals that changed the American landscape, megachurches have adopted aspects of commerce in the past 50 that makes their worship spaces resemble an entertainment space more than a place of worship. This should not be the case.
In the Evangelical New Testament theology, the church is “built” when baptized believers come together to worship. Judaism, the predecessor of Christianity, stipulated a specific space, the (portable) tabernacle. For elements to be truly sacred, they should not suffer secular use, like in the Jewish tabernacle. This thesis will create a sacred space for such a megachurch by creating a temporary demountable intervention in a secular site that emerges once weekly. The site used for this intervention is the Community College of Rhode Island. The Knight Campus is suited for a megachurch in that is has a strong utilitarian nature and capacity for symbolic imagery of value to both religion and education. For both theological and practical reasons, the thesis will look into using textiles as a means to create a distinctly sacred sanctuary. The temporality and the site will restrict the intervention, forcing an intervention that achieves the sacred with as little as possible. Simplicity and symbols reduced to their essence will create the feeling of sacred. Even though the relationship between a college and a church might be unusual in secular countries, the intervention will not only show respect to the secular roots of the site, but will emphasize and focus elements of the building so that they receive a sacred allure.
Alexandru, Dragos Tiberiu, "Evoking the divine : from secular to sacred and back again" (2018). Masters Theses. 234.
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