6 Major Moments in the Progression of Church Building Design

The Separate Building

The earliest churches met in houses, the personal homes of their more affluent members.  At one point in the church history, a point lost between the end of the book of the Acts of the Apostles and the writings of the church fathers in the middle ages, the church moved into a separate building.  This introduced an entirely new building type of architecture, for this new faith required a new design unseen in other buildings.

Separation of Sanctuary and Narthex

The concept of separation of uses in the building is one of the more defining moments in the history of the church.  By creating the clarification between the sacred space and the entry space, the church fathers were creating boundaries and uses.  These design considerations produced new shapes and structures never before imagined.

Master Builder

The term ‘architect’ is originally Greek – an amalgamation of “arkhi” – chief, and “tekton” – builder.  Originally, the architect was the leader of craftsmen, teaching each laborer how to build their plan and design.  At some point, an inspired arkhi-tekton conceived of the flying buttress, or ribbed vaults, or how to lay stained glass windows in soaring stone walls.

From Stone to Steel

Few churches embraced the concept initially, as the gothic and baroque styles were considered essential for proper church design, but the introduction of steel-framed buildings was a turning point for church design.  As more church architects, church contractors, and interior designers were accustomed to and embraced the steel building, the church buildings became lighter, cheaper, and more flexible.  Framing stone and brick around a steel structure allowed for thinner walls, larger windows, and more space for less money.

Classrooms, Lobbies, Gyms and Fellowship Halls

The more flexible building structure and the cheaper buildings allowed for the introduction of other uses in the church building, introducing the accessories uses of classrooms, lobbies, and community focused space.  The modern church design and function have their root in these new choices.

Design Build Reborn

Vanman brings this process full-circle, bringing the design/build introduced in the master builder to the modern age.  Bringing the professions of contractor and architect into the same company created an integration of the church design unknown since the days of the arkhi-t