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THE CHRISTIAN APPROACH TO ARCHITECTURE

University of Sheffield, Department of Architecture
3rd year Theory Option, Session 1974/5

 

The Christian Approach to Architecture was an undergraduate theory option dissertation written in 1975, and it is informative to see the Christian context then. The second paragraph in its introduction reads:-

It is only recently that evangelical Christians have once again begun to understand the biblical doctrine concerning the physical, as opposed to spiritual, things of life, especially that concerned with architecture, The Shaftesbury Project on Christian Involvement in Society has an environment study group, but this includes only one architect. The first Conference of Christian Planners and Architects only took place in March 1973; it sugqested a broad framework of subjects that it would like researched by individuals or groups, to be published as a symposium on the subject 'Architecture and Planning as Relationships - God, Man, and the Environment'

In a later MA dissertation, Development Practices and Churches: the Role of the Local Church in Community Development with Respect to Housing, written at Oxford Brookes University in 1993, the same author gave a more detailed account of the Christian context .

In 1955 John Stott resurrected the Eclectic Society originally founded during the Wesleyan revival by John Newton…... Their fresh understanding led to the statement at the First National Evangelical Anglican Congress in 1967 that evangelism and compassionate service belong together and an admission of "shame that we have not thought sufficiently deeply or radically about the problems of our society." In the following year Tear Fund, The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund, was set up specifically to combine evangelism and relief. Then at the Second Congress in 1977 the theme was Obeying Christ in a Changing World, and commitments were made to take action locally and have an active world wide concern "for the stewardship of the world's resources and for the cause of welfare and justice among all men." In the same year Third Way magazine began publication, presenting biblical perspectives on current issues, while the Shaftesbury Project had already set up study groups to analyse social issues theologically and provide a biblical basis for Christian involvement. ….The Chicago Declaration in 1973 and the Lausanne Covenant in 1974 did for American evangelicals and then evangelicals world wide what NEAC had done for Anglican evangelicals in England…..

David Sheppard’s two influential books Built as a City and Bias to the Poor were published in 1974 and 1983 respectively. So The Christian Approach to Architecture was at the leading edge

That title may seem arrogant and prescriptive, but a reading will show it was not. Varied approaches are discussed, and the THE refers to them collectively. The chapter entitled The Christian Approach to Architecture again gave examples and was only prescriptive in that the underlying principals were biblically based.

It will prove interesting to see how this Christian approach to architecture has developed since then, and to explore today's approach and current issues.

THE CHRISTIAN APPROACH TO ARCHITECTURE

The text is unaltered and formatted as nearly as possible to the original typed script, though the illustrations have been edited, but kept separate from the text.

 

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