Cultural Architecture, Part 2

Let’s build a culture.

In Part 1, we wrote about order. Things have order. A building’s foundation would be “order”, as would “walls,” “doors,” etc. In architecture, order refers to the individual parts that make up the whole, specifically, to the number of the varying parts present as they dictate the end result. In other words, the components of the room determines the room itself.

The second principle of architecture is arrangement. We take the order (discussed in Part 1) and put those things where they go. While a “door” is a “door”, upon closer inspection, it is not. Both the form and function of a front door are different than the form and function of a door leading into a bedroom or a garage. Those parts, those orders, go somewhere, and that somewhere is the arrangement. Within arrangement there are several pieces:

  • The groundplan is the drawing made by tools to demonstrate what the building will look like aesthetically, yet done from, and in, a technical manner. Typically, this would be from above.
  • The elevation is a rendering of the building from a certain side that reveals the varying heights of differing points on the building.
  • The perspective is a drawing that demonstrates scope from an “eye”. This takes into account the nuances of the building and demonstrates “fit.”
  • All three of these (groundplan, elevation, and perspective) take place through reflection (thinking and processing the whole and its implication) and invention (the creation, solving and resolving of issues, problems and the creative elements of the structure itself).

I know what you’re thinking…to quote the kid in the Coke Zero commercial, “…and?”

An Example from Teaching

Architecting a culture functions in the same way. A church’s culture has an order in that there are parts that form the whole. While many may teach, the context for teaching will (it had better!) be different. This difference is the audience (loosely). We teach kids differently than we do adults. Another word for this may be “context.”  The church should recognize the parts (order) and then arrange them accordingly.

  • The groundplan would be the scope and sequence of the material to be taught.
  • The elevation would be the context (the how, perhaps) of the material. Example: Teaching on the Trinity would look different to different age groups. Basic elements and metaphor (clovers, water, ice and steam, etc) may be used for younger ages, but would prove faulty as the age/maturity levels increase.
  • The perspective would show the flow from a single comprehensive point.
  • Both reflection and invention would be necessary to monitor and move through the culture change.

In short, we need to be aware of what the culture will look like (groundplan), how it will affect a variety of people (elevation), that the culture will appear different depending on where one is in the process (perspective).  Creativity and planning (reflection and invention) are necessary to maintain it’s ETHOS.


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