Longing for Identity
Historically, Catholic churches have been the backbone of many cities worldwide. However, as a young country, New Zealand Catholic churches have not had as much power and impact on the surrounding communities as those in Europe. The number of people who consider themselves religious is declining in the ‘new world’. Furthermore, New Zealand has suffered from urban sprawl. Consequently, people tend to use private vehicles to travel to their churches, so the demand for parking spaces is being prioritized. This is forcing people into a state of disconnection with the place, especially since the surrounding area is typically neglected.
St. Anthony's Church community is not exempt from this trend. The neglected landscape around the church and its affiliated school functions merely as a display for cars. It appears as a dormant space in which the culturally diverse community is unable to express it-self. This presents multiple opportunities. First, an opportunity to address the future improvements of the church and school’s outdoor spaces; an opportunity to develop this research into real project, and lastly, an opportunity to strengthen the bond between the complex community of St. Anthony’s Church.
This thesis aims to investigate around participatory design through an extraction of the applicable knowledge derive from the theoretical framework. Through this, the relevant methods for participatory design will be use as a tool for engaging with the community of St. Anthony’s Church. The final aim is to engage and design with the Catholic youth, allowing them to lead the design process for their built environment through three workshops. This work is based on the understanding that Catholic youth can reclaim the lost relationship between church communities and the common ground they live upon.
In this way, the research purposes to give back to the Catholic church community by guiding them to rekindle a sense of connection with, and a sense of custodianship over, their immediate landscape. The thesis represents the first step in a burgeoning project between the researcher-facilitator and the community of St. Anthony's Church.