Socialising Church Space
For hundreds of years the Christian Church stood as the pillar of occidental cities, structuring society and the urban fabric. At the time of European colonisation, the impact of the Church on New Zealand society was less significant than it had been centuries before. Social priorities were slowly shifting away from religious fanaticism, as such; the church did not influence the urban environment to the same level. Church buildings became increasingly isolated from their urban setting, with less impact on their surrounding environment. In addition, New Zealand urban development was expanding, creating the need for vehicular transport. For the majority of Christians, driving to church continues to be commonplace. What little exterior space churches have is typically used as car parking. This space surrounding many church buildings is functional and utilitarian, resulting in an uninviting exterior with no pedestrian interactivity. This has limited the potential interaction between the church and local community. To fully understand the New Zealand model, ten churches were identified and analysed in Wellington. Information and evidence were gathered on how to address the lack of inviting exterior church space. A comparative analysis model was used to identify sites with particular potential for improved design. Engagement with the respective church communities was then necessary to establish a deeper understanding of each site and the needs of the community. Comparative analysis and community engagement methods produced a set of criteria for designing in each space. By following the same process for each church space, the resulting designs propose spaces which allow opportunities for both members of the church and the general public to interact. Designs specifically focus on creating vibrant spaces with less emphasis on the architectural qualities and utilitarian programmes of church space. They are also multipurpose and flexible, taking into account weekly engagement and potential future development.