"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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.