This is a guide for congregations and groups who look after historic places of worship, and who want to make changes to their building in order to better serve their worshiping needs while also making their building available as a resource for the wider community.
Any change in the fabric, arrangement, or use of a historic place of worship needs to take into consideration and balance multiple needs: the need for sustainability has to be balanced against liturgical, pastoral and wider social needs, as well as requirements that relate to the architectural and historical characteristics of the space.
If you are thinking about initiating such changes in your building, this guide will provide a framework and set of resources for developing your design thinking and formulating a design rationale for change. By design rationale we mean connecting ideas and suggestions for change with the reasons behind these changes. Formulating a design rationale is an important precursor to setting up a building project (whether it is an adaptation, refurbishment or reordering) and communicating and collaborating effectively with stakeholders as well design and heritage professionals, planning officers, funders and other experts.
The design thinking guide
This guide aims to help you develop your thinking and rationale about required changes to your building (however small), and the difference that these changes will make to the way your place is used. Designing changes in a building is often daunting but it is also a rewarding task – as it can help meet spiritual, cultural, and social needs and aspirations. Whether you are thinking about small alterations and reorderings or bigger changes, you need to develop a rationale to help define and justify them.
This thinking process and resulting rationale cannot be the work of one person alone. It needs to be driven and shaped by the congregation, but with the input, and possibly the contribution, of all those who are part of the life and sustainability of this building. This guide aims to help you understand how to connect the dots between the various issues, needs, aspirations and ideas about the building, in order to shape a strong design rationale for change.
This guide will be helpful at different stages of your design project, but particularly when you are starting off. It can help:
How to use this guide
This guide provides a framework for developing your design thinking based on a series of key questions:
The key step and outcome of the guide is to help you formulate a design rationale: answer how the proposed changes will address your issues and meet your desired outcomes and the potential of your assets, that is, how to connect why and what.
The guide provides a set of templates and prompts that can help you structure and record your thinking (in collaboration with others), as well as a set of links to resources that can help you position your thinking and action within the different phases of a building project.
The guide has four sections: the first section focusses on helping you think about why changes are needed or wanted, the second focusses on what changes are needed or wanted, and the third section helps you connect why and what in order to formulate a design rationale. The fourth section helps you think who to engage and how in order to explore or answer these questions. It is suggested that you start from the ‘why’ and move to the ‘what’ before you are able to connect them together to formulate a design rationale. However, in every step you take you should consider ‘who’ is important to engage and ‘how’, so you may need to refer to the ‘who and how’ section as you go along.