What about church and mosque and chapel?

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Discussion by: asnagharehkub

If you were an architect and your clients wanted you to design a church or mosque for them, what would you say to them?

21 COMMENTS

  1. I am an architect, although of ships, not buildings, so were they to ask me to design them a mission boat, something of which there are some lovely examples, I hope I would be honest enough to suggest they consider my views on religion, my disbelief in a sky fairy, and my belief that I long ago grew out of needing invisible friends, before they awarded me the contract.

    I have had, in fact, similar conversations with the fish farm industry in the Pacific North West about the environmental destruction of their industry.

    If, after all that, they decided I was still best qualified, I would make sure that they received a vessel that was beyond criticism and very “Intelligently Designed.”

    • In reply to #3 by Sheepdog:

      I am an architect, although of ships, not buildings, so were they to ask me to design them a mission boat, something of which there are some lovely examples, I hope I would be honest enough to suggest they consider my views on religion, my disbelief in a sky fairy, and my belief that I long ago grew…

      Where were you when Noah needed a hand. His design was a failure. And if you did get the contract to design the ark, would you include a place for mosquitoes.

  2. Yes

    But I know where this is going. Would you as an atheist be comfortable working/designing for a company that exclusively manufactures religious items? Would/should an atheist extend their creative efforts in doing work that supports religion in any way? There are two ways of looking at this: design and aesthetics could be your focus or the use of the product could be your focus (maybe even the subject matter – which ultimately effects its use.) In design you need to deal with elements such as structure, composition, line, and other abstract qualities that are consistent whether you are designing say for a church or a business. There is no mental/aesthetic difference in approach when designing a ceramic Christmas village as there is in designing a Tutor village. The work, intelligence, effort… is the same. Understand?

    Ultimately, you need to decide your focus – the work or the use by others. You need to decide if occasional work that has potential religious use is OK with you or not. If designing one or two churches in a lifetime amongst 100s, is that acceptable to you? Is designing 100 churches as your entire life’s work OK considering your an atheist?

    I am in similar shoes. I design products and occasionally some come around with a religious theme. I’m OK with it because it is mostly secularized and it’s not an all the time thing. Design is design. If it were full time, I decided I would back out because it would then be equivalent to a “calling” or mission. It could potentially be on the same level as someone who passionately decided to paint specifically portraits for the love of the subject. Or someone who paints angels… Some people might be OK with this, but life is short, you may as well enjoy and take pride in the overall jist of what you do. For me art and design is my focus more than the subject. You can’t control what people do with it after its out of your hands.

    If I were in your shoes, I would take the challenge gladly. If I were to then be handed all the church projects, all the time, I would discuss my views with my boss and if no resolution would happen then I’d be looking elsewhere. Take the church as long as your next job is designing a school or Corporate office, or mansion…

  3. Just a thought. Would you design gas chambers that were to be used on humans? At what point do you decide that something is harmful or not?The primary purpose for a church is to gather people together. The activities are not within your control.The building could end up being an art gallery or internet cafe… Something like a gas chamber has a primary purpose to kill masses.

    Also is the personality of the client a consideration? If so, when?

  4. I would say the same thing I said to the Evangelical Christians who asked me to produce their video for a young girls camp, I don’t feel comfortable doing this project. I was fired. My boss was a hardcore bible-basher, the girls camp was run by his mother-in-law. Discovering he had hired an atheist was far too much for him to deal with. I have, five years on, started my own agency; we will be going after his client list, very aggressively.

  5. I have a pretty good anecdote, my father an architect but also an atheist, was asked to design a church, he did so without regret.
    The church in question (http://www.entuobra.com/site/images/stories/entrevistas/agustin-hernandez2.jpg) consists of 3 crosses laid on their sides, and when asked by a friend why did he do it his answer was poetic; “you can think of the 3 crosses as depicting the crucifiction or as i do, the fall of christianity)

  6. Depends really. From a job standpoint, I wouldn’t care. Even believers deserve a structurally sound roof :) Might not be the best suited for a grand vision though. I’d put it on the table out right, just to be clear.

  7. Churches have an unusually significant part in architectural history you’d be a fool not to do the job. I did a wine bar once, I don’t drink wine but I was still happy to undertake the task knowing I understood the general feeling.

    • In reply to #13 by alaskansee:

      Churches have an unusually significant part in architectural history you’d be a fool not to do the job. I did a wine bar once, I don’t drink wine but I was still happy to undertake the task knowing I understood the general feeling.

      Depends on the budget, whether this is approve (design) by committee, and whether the client is creatively flexible.

  8. I would say “pay me”.

    Even better, I’d design something they could not look away from. Something “addicting”. Then I’d ask to be paid AND cut in on the church’s tax exempt status. Hey, pay me and put me on the “board”. Talk about ‘The gift that keeps on giving….”

    PS. I’d embed little “gems” for the “faithful” to discover….

  9. Why not ask someone who has done it, and stepped out of the Gothic architectural tradition in the process, such as Ken Ham.

    I am sure he could tell you that “There’s lots of good eating on them simple minded and ill educated folks.”

  10. Business is business. As canadian_right wrote, I’d make sure they were not a hate group and then design the best damn church/mosque/temple they had ever seen. Not being an architect I really can’t say, but it seem to me that this type of structure might provide an opportunity to design a truly breathtaking building.

  11. I don’t think it would be appropriate to involve religious belief (or non-belief) in business transactions. For multiple reasons, I would certainly take the job. Some of the most majestic buildings in the world are religious buildings. The Sistine Chapel for instance, or the many Gothic cathedrals across Europe will leave most anyone, believer or not, awestruck by their beauty. Besides that, it would be silly to and against rational atheism to turn down designing a religious building because, to a true atheist, the building is nothing more than just another building without any special significance.

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