Increasingly, both public and private organisations are attempting to accommodate religious diversity via the provision of multi-faith spaces (MFS). Some are small and mono-functional (located in airports, universities, hospitals, shopping malls, etc); others take the form of dedicated buildings or complexes, where different religions inhabit and utilise their own sacred space(s), whilst sharing collective ‘secular’ facilities. Here individuals can, notionally, come together to pray, relax, discuss and learn.
Within these spaces divergent worldviews might be brought together, with potential reconciliation between belief systems occurring. Some even view MFS as places where new religious practices might thrive. In the past MFS have received overt political endorsement, with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) noting the importance of ‘shared spaces for interaction’. Here MFS are viewed as tangible manifestations of tolerance and pluralism, within a socio-religious landscape characterised by a certain degree of fragmentation. Yet issues arise as to whether these spaces are being constructed to promote narrow socio-political agendas (i.e. ‘cohesion’ or ‘inclusion’ policies), or are put in place to merely appease ‘customers’ – for example, in airports, shopping centres or universities.
To summarise our findings for a wide audience, we have produced:
- An exhibition with its own dedicated website (opens new window). Some selected images are also available here (PDF, 200KB), and an exhibition leaflet can be downloaded here (PDF, 1.1MB)
- A set of twenty five key statements that can be downloaded here (PDF, 48KB)
- A brief survey that can be found here (opens new window)
- A two day conference, with materials and exclusive podcasts are available here
- A short video that briefly summarises our project aims
Unlike existing studies, we focus specifically upon the embodiment of the multi-faith ideal in ‘built form’, exploring MFS as works of architecture, and more particularly as expressions of the interface between religious and secular worldviews. In assessing the motivations and controversies behind their creation, we seek to investigate:
- MFS as symptoms of specific societal trends and political ambitions.
- MFS as works of architecture, shaped through the actions of architects, designers, engineers, artists, users, etc.
- MFS as agents that encourage, shape or facilitate particular activities.
- MFS as historical entities, that have developed and consolidated over time.
- Funding programme
- "The Religion & Society Research Programme", co-funded by:
AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council),
ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council).
- Project title
- Multi-Faith Spaces - Symptoms and Agents of Religious and Social Change.
- Principal investigator
- Dr Ralf Brand.
- Dr Andrew Crompton.
- Theological Associate
- Rev. Dr. Terry Biddington.
- Research Associate
- Dr Chris Hewson.
- Start Date
- End Date
- Award/Grant Amount
- Full economic costing
- AHRC Grant Number
- University of Manchester.
- Architecture / Science and Technology Studies.