A case study from a piece on church design featured in Manplan 5: Religion
Manplan 5 was originally published in March 1970, and was republished online in May 2016. Read the full piece on church design here
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Turning the congregation inwards so that the members face one another is a departure of great importance, for it marks the changeover from individualism in churchgoing to an acceptance of community. In the old days it was always considered that looking into the faces of other members of the congregation was distracting; but it is now accepted that the presence of the others is an essential part in the churchgoing experience. Originally, this turning inwards was done rather gingerly, by merely tilting the two outer ranges of seats a few degrees towards the middle. Latterly it has been done more boldly as in this small church at Sutton Courtenay, Oxford shire (architects Buries and Newton) where the seats are ranged in a herringbone and the social room is placed at the side. This results in a real and natural sense of intimacy.
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