Home is where the heart is…
This “Thoughts” page has been created as I’m about to embark on a 2 month journey across the U.S.A. This journey will take my boyfriend Mike and I to the sunny West coast of America; travelling from Los Angeles to the awesome Grand Canyon, passing the dazzling lights of Las Vegas and through to the serenity of Yosemite National Park. We will then fly across to the sunshine state of Florida and drive up the coast towards the bright lights of New York City, passing by the historic grandeur of Washington DC. Finally, we will finish our journey at the wedding of Suzy & Tom Mahony on Lake Canandaigua.
Along this journey, I will undertake a study, furthering on the work I carried out in Thailand for my University Dissertation.
During my trip to Thailand I wrote a piece on the evocation of spirituality within Thai Buddhist Temple Architecture, which aimed to investigate how built form can invoke a spiritual experience. For this I considered a number of variants: age, location, size and current condition (i.e. whether the temple was still actively used or a ruin). A fundamental part of this work was measuring the effectiveness of achieving a spiritual house. For this, a very good friend of mine who had no training in design & architecture submitted her personal account as a tourist to each spiritual house, in addition to my own submission. I hope to carry out a similar format in the United States.
The study of Thai Buddhist Temple architecture became not just a research trip but a spiritual journey, and I hope the trip to the U.S.A. has a similar effect for both myself and Mike. In my dissertation I wrote “I hope that a multitude of questions may be raised upon reading this work, as to the experiential effect and spirituality which architecture in general brings.” Thus, it has inspired me to take this consideration further to the U.S.A…
It is said that “the United States has more houses of worship than any other country in the world: churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and meeting houses” – well what a perfect place to conduct a study on religious architecture!!
The United States is made up of just over 78% Christians, nearly 5% other religions and 16% unaffiliated. Within this new work I aim to look at two key variants: Religion and Iconic vs. Small-town. I have decided upon this as the United States, as their name incites is a United land where people from all different religious and historic backgrounds live together. As a concept, I would like to investigate whether having a knowledge of the religion or not effects your spiritual experience. I have been brought up Christian and have spent a year studying Buddhism so will I feel more spiritual within these places of worship as apposed to a Jewish synagogue or a Hindu temple? It will also be interesting to see whether a pre-ordainted architectural layout is apparent in each particular religion’s place of worship or not. The other main factor which I would like to consider is that of iconic vs. small-town. I will investigate whether the spiritual experience is enhanced or in fact diminished by visiting an iconic landmark such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City as apposed to a small, unknown church in downtown New York for example.
In order to evaluate each place of worship’s effectiveness in providing a spiritual house I will look to consider 3 key elements:
Whether the building serves as a shrine, teaching the word of that religion’s God//Gods
Whether it provides a community centre, and
Whether it provides a spiritual sanctuary, away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world.I will enlist the help of Mike to submit his account of his experiencesas well as noting down my own.
“Architecture is not an attribute of a building itself, but of a building that is experienced in a culture – and we all bring some culture or other to bear on a building when we experience it.” – Andrew Balantyne.
Let the journey begin…