The Love Is to Be
Loved and Respected

By: David Price, AIA  

"There were those who believed and still are those who believe - that fountains, waterfalls, magnificent flower gardens, and sweeping lawns were extravagant, a waste of money. But money isn't the issue. It never is. The issue is the well-being of the human psyche and the human soul. Nature is a beautiful gift of God."
Robert H. Schuller, from his new book My Journey.

People engaged in the activities of a church depend on a social infrastructure to enrich their daily lives and their sense of identity. This social infrastructure is accommodated by an environment comprised of a network of open space - the total figure of space in between structures - along with buildings and landscape that together define the scale, character, and social nature of a church.
Since church campuses are usually constructed in phases through individual projects, the whole is often affected every time physical change takes place. Many times, building committees and church staff, feeling pressured by program needs, scheduling demands, and budget limitations, succumb to decision-making that can result in the random placement of buildings and a more disconnected open space. What is needed is a judicious design.
Open space and landscape treatment can create a successful church campus. But, open space is often devalued when used as an afterthought.
Why is open space and landscape important to churches as they go about the business of building mission? Churches like other landowners have the responsibility to use their property to protect its natural value and not infringe upon its neighbors. In addition, the church has a special obligation to model respect and conservation to God's creation.
Prayer walks through landscaped gardens, small groups meeting in the intimacy of furnished patios, the fellowship found in courtyard gatherings, seasonal events occurring in formal quadrangles, the monumentality of lawns, and the informality of fields filled with sport enthusiasts are each different aspects of a planned landscape.
As we adapt the land to meet our mission-driven purposes, let us strive to be stewards of our land as well as conservators of our heritage.


Interconnected Open Space Depends on These Components

Patio -- a room-sized space for small groups, not more than 20 feet on one side and often an outdoor extension of a single room.
Courtyard -- a space for fellowship not more than 100 feet on one side, enclosed within a building and intended for use by a variety of groups.
Quadrange -- a distinct space for special events not more than 400 feet on one side and shared by many church buildings.
Lawn or Green -- a space proportional to the scale of the overall campus. This becomes the campus' ritual and symbolic center.
Field -- a clearing dimensioned to accommodate recreational activities and typically located on the edge of a church campus.

ChurchWorks is a design firm that designs church buildings that embrace creative ideas for expanded mission and foster friendlier and more inviting environments. If you have any ideas or questions you wish addressed in this column, contact David Price at (714) 832-1722, by fax at (714) 832-0738, or by email at

Second Quarter 2002- PAGE 23- Strategies for Today's Leader -

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