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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Architecture and Culture

For a Special Issue on
Spiritual, sacred, secular. Places of faith in the twenty-first century

Manuscript deadline
15 January 2022

Cover image - Architecture and Culture

Special Issue Editor(s)

Kate Jordan, University of Westminster, UK
[email protected]

Shahed Saleem, University of Westminster, UK
[email protected]

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Spiritual, sacred, secular. Places of faith in the twenty-first century

The sociologist Grace Davie suggests that there is a ‘persistent paradox’ at the heart of religion in the West: while the process of secularisation continues, the ‘place of religion’ has never been more visible, contested, and politicised. With shifting practices of traditional religion and the emergence of new faith communities, places of worship are manifesting new understandings of the spiritual, sacred and secular – and new intersections and boundaries between them. In historically Christian nations in the West, migrant communities have reshaped the built environment with the introduction of other world faiths. Emerging architectural, material and visual cultures now sit side by side with established traditions. Transient populations have activated an increase in shared and multi-faith spaces, generating new typologies that enable different forms of fixed and peripatetic worship.

However, focusing only on the dominant narratives of faith in Western Europe and the United States risks overlooking diverse global practices of faith communities that are diasporic and transnational. The funding, building technology, exchange of emerging styles and ideas, social, theological and demographic shifts captured in such faith architectures differ widely across nations, cultures and communities. These practices frequently cross borders, through new and improvised methods of building procurement such as transnational finance, the production and export of off-site components, and the complex relationship between vernacular craft skills and increasingly mechanised modes of production. In recent years, sociologists have posited a ‘post-secular’ landscape, in which new expressions of ‘spirituality’ (which may include humanism and community ritual) exist in parallel with traditional religious worship. Social media and virtual communication have been transformative in the development of such ideas and the rapid dissemination of these across the globe.

The special issue of Architecture and Culture (Volume 11 Issue 1) seeks to broaden notions of how the sacred, spiritual and secular are imagined and constituted though new architectures. We invite expansive interpretations of faith, religion and spirituality and the spatial and architectural encounters between them. We are interested in innovative faith practices and spaces, and welcome contributions that address the spatial implications of the rising phenomenon of online gathering and worship, necessitated by the Covid pandemic.

We invite articles which might explore (but not be limited to) the following themes:

  • The significance of gender in worship, design and construction
  • Style and iconography
  • Shifts in demographics and populations
  • Shifts in theology/narratives of the secular and post-secular
  • Transnational links
  • Modes of production – vernacular techniques and craft skills and mechanization
  • Adaptive reuse and mixed use spaces
  • Multi-faith spaces
  • Community participation and engagement
  • Heritage and identity
  • Continuity and change/tradition and innovation
  • Places of worship in post-conflict territories
  • Funding, budgets, finance and stakeholders
  • Virtual and material spaces
  • Impacts of the pandemic on space and worship
  • Secular ritual

We aim to publish a selection of articles from both established and early career scholars. We will also seek perspectives from practitioners (architects, artists and heritage professionals), stakeholders and members of faith communities.

Kate Jordan is a Senior Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory at the University of Westminster. She publishes and lectures widely on modern-era Christian architecture: recent publications include her co-edited volume Modern Architecture for Religious Communities, 1850-1970: Building the Kingdom and ‘Places of Worship in a Changing Faith Landscape’ in 100 Years, 100 Churches. Her research on Victorian magdalen convents was shortlisted for the 2016 RIBA Presidents Award for Research. She is currently working on contemporary church architecture, a subject on which she regularly contributes articles and reviews for RIBAJ. In June 2019, she organised a conference entitled ‘Spiritual, Sacred, Secular: The Architecture of Faith in Modern Britain’, co-hosted by the University of Westminster and the RIBA.

Shahed Saleem is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster, and a practising architect. His book, ‘The British Mosque, an architectural and social history’, was published by Historic England in 2018 and is the first comprehensive account of this building type in Britain. His architectural design work was nominated for the V&A Jameel Prize 2013 and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2016. His research won commendations at the RIBA President’s Medal for Research and Historic England Angel Award for excellence in heritage research, in 2018. He co-organised the conference ‘Spiritual, Secular, Sacred: The Architecture of Faith in Modern Britain’, June 2019, with Kate Jordan.

Submission Instructions

Submissions may be predominantly visual – for instance, an essay based on images, with short, critical supporting text – or they may be predominantly verbal, using images for illustration. They may be structured as expository arguments or essays, or presented in alternative forms, such as poems, short stories, design exposition or other compositions. They may be linked to digital sound recordings, videos or other image files. Whatever their form, they will be engaging and coherent. The maximum length for a submission is 8,000 words, including notes and references. The maximum number of images to appear in print form is 8.

This ground-breaking special issue considers the dynamic relationships between people, faith, space and place in the twenty-first century, exploring the nuanced intersections between the spiritual, sacred and secular. The editors interpret the notion of faith expansively and position it within new critical, methodological and practice-based frameworks. They invite: contemporary academic research; new work by artists, architects and practitioners; and innovative community initiatives. The special issue invites consideration of faith places in local and global contexts and welcomes submissions that discuss virtual or imaginary spaces.

  • Select 'Spiritual, sacred, secular' when submitting your paper to EditorialManager

Those submissions that are selected to be taken further will be anonymously peer reviewed. Our editorial practice aims to be constructively critical, respecting an author’s voice and position while working to tune submissions to the highest level of quality and readability.

  • Expected publication date Spring 2023

All contributing authors receive free e-prints of their publication.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article