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This 2 credit unit course aims at enabling students to establish the
symbolic nature of religious buildings & their congruence with the
respective mode of worship.
Course Outline
i. Definition of a Religious Building
ii. Relevance of Sacred Architecture
iii. Xters of Sacred Buildings
iv. Symbolic Nature of Sacred Buildings (SB)
v. Types of Religious Buildings
vi. Correspondence of SB & Mode of Worship
vii. Correspondence of SB’s Layout & Mode of Worship
viii. Correspondence of SB’s Layout & Function
ix. Relationship btw Sacred Bldgs & the Planned Urban Setting
x. Location of Sacred within the Urban Environment
Definition of a Religious Building

i. A religious building is a place of worship, which is a

specially designed structure or consecrated (holy or
sanctified) space, where individuals or a group of
people congregate to perform acts of devotion,
veneration, or religious study.
ii. A building constructed or used for this purpose is
sometimes called a house of worship.
iii. Temples, churches, and mosques are examples of
structures created for worship.
iv. A monastery, particularly for Buddhists, may serve
both to house those belonging to religious orders
and as a place of worship for visitors.
v. Natural or topographical features may also serve as
places of worship, and are considered holy or
sacrosanct in some religions.
vi. The rituals associated with the Ganges river, India is
a popular place of in Hindu worship.
Genuis Loci + Identify of Place or
Place Attachment
• Religion plays an important role in place attachment
and conceptualization of same.
• Architecture of religious buildings seeks to enhance
better understanding of the role of place in the
experience, as well as of religious place attachment
• It describes in detail place, design, aesthetics, and
special characteristics that facilitate devotion.
• It also defines the process place attachment, and the
phenomenon to place is learned through socialization
involving rituals, use of artifacts, story telling, and
place visits.
• It could be argued that there is an active socializing
component to religious place attachment in addition
to the experiential one. We conclude with a brief
discussion integrating the complex issues of religion,
place, identity, and attachment.
Definition of Place-identity
i. Place-identity is defined as those dimensions
of self that describe the individual's
personal identity in relation to the physical
environment by means of a complex pattern of
conscious and unconscious ideas, feelings,
values, goals, preferences, skills, and
behavioral tendencies relevant to a specific
ii. Therefore, place identity is tied to the
individual, his social group, and the physical
environment where (s)he lives.
iii. The tripod of place identity are physical, social,
and psychological.
iv. These 3 are the core constructs (measurable
items) of place identity.
Place Identity or Spatial Identity
• Place identity Place identity or place-based identity
refers to a cluster of ideas about place and identity
in the fields of geography, urban planning, urban
design, landscape architecture, environmental
psychology, ecocriticism and urban
sociology/ecological sociology.
• It is sometimes called urban character,
neighborhood character or local character.
• This phenomenon has become a significant issue in
the last 25 years in urban planning and design.
• Place identity concerns the meaning and
significance of places for their inhabitants and
users, and how these meanings contribute to
individuals' conceptualizations of self.
• Place identity also relates to the context of
modernity, history and the politics of
• i.e. Historical determinism, which overlaps
historical events, social spaces vs. gender
discrimination, class, and ethnicity.
Place Identity or Spatial Identity (cont.)
• In this way, it explores how spaces have evolved
over time by exploring the social constructs
through time and the development of space, place
and power.
• To the same extent, the politics of representation
is brought into context, as the making of place
identity in a community also relates to the
exclusion or inclusion in a community.
• Through this, some have argued that place
identity has become an area for social change
because it gives marginalized communities
agency over their own spaces.
• In the same respect, it is argued that place
identity has also been used to intervene social
change and perpetuate oppression from a top-
down approach by creating segregated spaces for
marginalized communities.
Concept of Place Identity
• Place identity relates to the idea of place
attachment and sense of place.
• Place identity is largely tied to the perception
of community formation;
• Because it recognizes that geographical
spaces do not solely bond a community
together, but social bonds forge a sense of
unity of purpose among members;
• These social forces often are feelings of
belonging and security, which involve
theoretical formations of fraternity or network.
• Theoretical formations of community, which
were identified in Community ‘Seeking Safety
in an insecure World (Bauman, 2001) as bonds
formed by similar locality, culture, language,
kinship and/or experiences.
Concept of Place Identity (cont.)
i. Identity also conceives feelings of security
and freedom as one is able to self-identify
and especially, when it comes to being
able to foster agency over community
ii. Here, the similar and shared experiences
of culture, language and locality foster the
sense of community or togetherness.
iii. This fostering of oneness is largely seen
as an extension of agency, because when
a community is able to achieve a sense of
place and place attachment, which
reinforces members’ own identities and
strengthen their bonds within their
respective groups.
Sanctity of Religious Buildings
i. Under International Humanitarian
Law and the Geneva Conventions,
religious buildings are offered
special protection, similar to the
protection guaranteed hospitals
displaying the Red Cross or Red
ii. These international laws of war bar
firing upon or from a religious
Definition of a Church
• The word church derives from the Greek ekklesia,
meaning the called-out ones.
• Its original meaning refers to the body of believers, or
the body of Christ.
• The word church is used to refer to a Christian place
of worship by some Christian denominations, including
Anglicans and Roman Catholics.
• Other Christian denominations, including the Religious
Society of Friends, Mennonites, Christadelphians, and
some unitarians, object to the use of the word
"church" to refer to a building, as they argue that this
word should be reserved for the body of believers who
worship there.
• Instead, these groups use words such as "Hall" to
identify their places of worship or any building in use
by them for the purpose of assembly.
Variety of Church Buildings
i. Basilica (Roman Catholic) in Rome, Italy
ii. Cathedral or minster (seat of a diocesan bishop within
the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches)
iii. Chapel ("Capel" in Welsh) – Presbyterian Church of Wales
(Calvinistic Methodism), and some other denominations,
especially non-conformist denominations.
iv. In Catholicism and Anglicanism, some smaller and
"private" places of worship are called chapels.
v. Church – Iglesia ni Cristo, Anglican, Orthodox, Roman
Catholic, Episcopalian, Protestant denominations
vi. Kirk (Scottish–cognate with church)
vii. Meeting House – Religious Society of Friends
viii. Meeting House – Christadelphians
Chartres Cathedral
Roman Catholic church in
Stupava (Slovakia)
Meeting House and Temple –
Places of Worship as Meeting Houses
Latter-day Saints use meeting house and temple to denote 2
different types of buildings. These are chapels & temples.
i. Chapels = for normal worship services
ii. Mormon Temples = Reserved for special ordinances or
iii. Temple – As opposed to church, supposed to be Roman Catholic);
Some more recently built temples are called churches.
iv. Orthodox temple – Orthodox Christianity (both Eastern and
v. An Orthodox temple is a place of worship with base shaped like
Greek cross.
Kingdom Hall – Jehovah's Witnesses
i. Meeting place for formal meetings for worship,
ii. for formal local congregations of up to 200 adherents.
iii. For Multi-congregation Events
Sample of a Church as
Meeting House
Relevance of the Study of Sacred
Sacred architecture expresses:-
i. The religious beliefs
ii. The aesthetic choices
iii. Economic & technological
capacity of those who create or
adapt it;
iv. Display a great variety physical
& functional characteristics of
the context (depending on time
and place).
Significance of Sacred Buildings
i. Religious buildings belong not just to the people who
worship in them, but to the entire communities they
ii. They preservation of such facilities of the built
environment could help the creation of genius loci
(sense of rootedness) of its residents;
iii. Evokes a sense of meaning for the landscape of both the
micro & the macro environment;
iv. Promotes the recovery of the sanctity value of any
v. The 4-dimensioned (physical, social, psychological,
symbolic) relationship btw the inhabitants and their
respective places of worship;
vi. Sacred buildings & spaces articulate symbolic and
affective dimensions for the cultural transformation of
children and young people;
vii. Sacred facilities link respective societies’ past, present
& future.
The Sacred in the City
Sacred in the City = Escape & Enchantment in
Everyday Environment;
Dead Poets Society quotes
• This aphorism (dictum or motto) resonates for
me the meaning of the sacred in the city as the
spaces, places, and experiences where
individual revelation connects with
collective meaning, and which enables
escape and enchantment in city life.
This confirms the psychological
relevance of sacred places within the
urban environment.
The Sacred Place

i. This refers the spiritual, to the ethereal, or even

to the material and objects or landscapes.
ii. In the act of recognition, humans put value on
certain aspects of their lives, albeit somewhat
subjectively, and sense or give greater or lesser
value to things.
iii. The values ascribed are not necessarily
specific or in a utilitarian sense, but, in the end,
things have ascribed and understood value.
iv. Landscapes themselves comprise of diverse
attributes and, in a broad sense, are inclusive of
all parts; but are also more than the sum of
v. A spiritual environment is defined by the
unearthly attributes humans attach to the
setting, hence, makes it enormously rich.
Xters of Religious Buildings
i. Assumption of super human scale, which
confirmed by Le Corbusier belief that
‘places of worship take part in the act of
worship’ through their gigantic nature;
ii. Symbolic in outlook by been extra ordinary;
iii. Correspondence of SB with the Mode of
iv. Layout & Mode of Worship correspond
v. Layout & Specific Spiritual Function are
perfectly linked
vi. Well integrated with the Planned Urban
vii. Located within the Urban Environment
The Parthenon in Athens, Greece, was built for the
goddess Athena in 447–432 BC and remained devoted to
her cult for nearly a 1000 years, later serving as a
Christian church and then as an Islamic mosque under
the Ottoman Empire.
Sample of A Church Layout
Another Church Layout
Typical Mosque Layout
Ariel View of a Typical Mosque
A Typical Layout of a Hindu Temple
Components of a Stupa
Faith Restoration Building
View of Stupa
Taj Mahal Mosque - Muslim Place of Worship