If you’ve spent a lifetime attending a synagogue, church, temple or other spiritual community, then you know some sacred spaces have better designs than others. The best ones blend reverent spaces with social spaces – comfortable areas where members can sit, relax and socialize before or after services. The problem is, once the event is over, and the building is closed, opportunities for gathering with like-minded and like-faithed individuals often dissipate until the following weekend.
That’s why we were so excited to see an article, posted on archdaily.com, about a temporary public space that was created for the 25th Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków, Poland. The total square footage of the structure is 150 square meters (just over 1610 square feet) and consists of a central, circular pavilion surrounded by several different structures.
Take Faith Outdoors: Creative Ideas for Creating Temporary Faith-based Gathering Places
We’ve spent some time focusing on how gathering places can be integrated into a variety of architectural styles, from residential and commercial buildings to academic and senior living facilities. Each of these places exists for a specific community. For those of us who have a spiritual community, it can feel like the community begins and ends on a single day of the week. The idea of temporary structures designed for outdoor gathering spaces could change that for the better.
The structure designed for the Jewish Culture Festival contained ramps and stairways to access the elevated platform and surrounding buildings. It has some resident chairs as well as room for people to place their own outdoor chairs. One adjacent structure served as a snack shop and cafe while another was set up as a social library and reading room. A third “house” was used as a classroom where the art of print graphics was taught. The central platform included space for a stage, dance floor and could accommodate a band, actors or speaker. It even had a table tennis zone. The structure was covered by sloped roofs protected by transparent, corrugated plastic plates – which also serve as the walls – so there was plenty of natural light and a distinct indoor-outdoor feel to the entire enterprise.
This type of temporary architecture should serve as an inspiration to faith-based communities world-wide as a means of providing a spiritual center outdoors, at off-site locations or maybe even in an open space on the property of the Mother Temple/Church/Synagogue – creating a more casual way for members to commune, socialize and gather when services aren’t in session. They are also a wonderful way to mingle with the public in a non-threatening way, serving as a gentle introduction to the community’s spiritual beliefs and allowing a space for conversation.
In an era where religious differences – and differences in general – are causing violent social disturbances, these temporary public / spiritual gathering places could be a means of celebrating our sameness and our innate, unified desire for community.
Contact Leslie Saul & Associates Architecture and Interiors to get to work on a temporary public space for your spiritual center.