About the discipline
Humans have long sought to manifest their religious beliefs through physical structure, the veritable “scripture in stone.” From ziggarats rising to the heavens to Baroque cathedrals expressing Christian beliefs and stories in visual form, physical structures communicate religious ideals in shape and orientation.
Respect for religious buildings and beliefs can impact the designs of cities, roads and waterways. Building of religious structures has also driven advances in architecture and engineering, such as the soaring Gothic cathedrals’ need for support in the form of flying buttresses. Many religious stress harmony between structure and environment.Modern architects, civil and industrial engineers strive to respond to human and environmental conditions in designing homes, workspaces and commercial buildings. This includes considering quality of life for people, promoting the meaning and value of physical settings; designing waste disposal, infrastructure and transportation; and designing spaces that combine technology and people, keeping in mind both their physiological and psychological capabilities.In a global marketplaces and diverse society, successful professionals consider the religious and personal needs of those who will use the structures they build. An understanding of religious beliefs regarding buildings and environment is instructive. A few examples include:
Shinto, or “the way of the kami,” is a prehistoric Japanese religious tradition that is still practiced today, sometimes in combination with other faith traditions. “Kami” refers to Japanese mythological deities, as well as divinity manifested in natural objects, places, animals and people.
Shinto beliefs stress harmony between deities, man, and nature, with the holiest structures traditionally near natural features such as waterfalls, caves, mountains or forests.Hindu Ayurvedic principles focus on healing, prevention and rejuvenation through a system of balance achieved by living in accordance with nature’s laws. Earth’s magnetic fields, and influences of the planets and other heavenly bodies are necessary factors when designing commercial or residential buildings, temples and cities. It is believed that architectural structures are alive, influenced by natural law just as is human health. Living or working in a building in accordance with nature law ensures prosperity.
Designers might also consider specific religious beliefs, such as Muslims who prefer bathrooms to be designed so commodes face away from Mecca, the holiest city of Islam; or belief systems such as Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space – now a trend in American decorating – claimed to achieve harmony with the environment. Architects and engineers also can benefit in the growth industry of religious building construction as America’s religious communities continue to thrive.
- “A Return to Architectural Traditions” by Brenda Goodman. The New York Times. Sept. 22, 2007.
- “Building firm wins green award for academy” by Neil Hodgson. Liverpool Daily Echo. June 22, 2007.
- “Congregation vs. Preservation: Two Perspectives on Sacred Space” by Roger K. Lewis. The Washington Post. Sept. 13, 2008.
- “Engineering and Religion” by Dugald C Jackson. Science. Volume 92, Issue 2389, (1940) pp. 324-326.
- “Radicalism Among Muslim Professionals Worries Many” Hassan M. Fattah, Suha Maayeh and Nada Bakri. The New York Times. July 14, 2007.
- “Symposium on Buddhism explores how modern-day believers are affected by scientific developments” by Liaw Wy-Cin. The Straits Times (Singapore). July 19, 2008.
- “Theology in built environments: exploring religion, architecture, and design” by G.T. Buggeln. Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, 47:3 (2009): 492.
- “Viewing the Liturgy: A Space Syntax Study of Changing Visibility and Accessibility in the Development of the Byzantine Church in Jordan” by Clark, David L. Chatford. World Archaeology. 39, no. 1 (2007): 84-104.
- An Illustrated History of Islamic Architecture. Moya Carey. Southwater, 2012.
- Building a Public Judaism: Synagogues and Jewish Identity in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Saskia Coenen Snyder. Harvard University Press, 2013.
- Engineering Ethics – International Library of Essays in Public and Professional Ethics. Michael Davis. Ashgate, 2005.
- Exit Architecture: Design Between War and Peace. Stephan Trüby. Springer, 2008
- Heavenly Vaults: From Romanesqueto Gothic in European Architecture. David Stephenson. New York, 2009.
- Intersections of architecture and religion in the medieval Mediterranean: The Cappella Palatina, Palermo, and the Cathedral of St Sophia, Nicosia. Amy Malleck. ProQuest, UMI Dissertation Publishing, 2012.
- Sacred Buildings: A Design Manual. Rudolf Stegers. Basel, 2008.
- Worship, Acoustics and Architecture. Cirillo, Ettore and Francesco Martellotta. Essex, 2007.
- Euro Islam Architecture: New Mosques in the West. Christian Welzbacher. Rotterdam, 2008.
- Public Religion and the Urban Environment: Constructing a River Town. Richard Bohannon. Continuum, 2012.
- “State, Society and Religious Engineering: Towards a Reformist Buddhism in Singapore” by Piya Tan Beng Sin. Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Vol. 19 (2004): 319-23.
- “The Multicultural City and the Politics of Religious Architecture: Urban Planning, Mosques and Meaning-making in Birmingham, UK” by Richard Gale. Ethnic Reconfiguration in the West. Hybrid Architecture and Urbanism (.pdf)
Codes of ethics
- American Institute of Architects — Code of Ethics & Bylaws
- American Institute of Chemical Engineers Code of Ethics
- American Planning Association/American Institute of Certified Planners – Ethics for the Certified Planner | more specific
- American Society of Civil Engineers: Code of Ethics
- Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists – Mission/Values/Vision
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- National Society of Professional Engineers – Code of Ethics
- “Sacred Architecture as a Narrative for Defining Religion, Culture and Social and Educational Change: A Proposal for a Series of Workshops for Educators.” Paper presented at the International Symposia on Educational Reform and Teacher Education in the 21st Century (Tokyo, Japan, March 26-30, 2000)
- The American Institute of Architects: Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture
Professional associations and faith groups
- Affiliation of Christian Engineers
- American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin
- Association of Christians in Mathematical Sciences
- Christian Engineering Society
- Engineering Ministries International
- Hard Hats for Christ
- International Muslim Association of Scientists & Engineers
- Clark, David L. Chatford. “Viewing the Liturgy: A Space Syntax Study of Changing Visibility and Accessibility in the Development of the Byzantine Church in Jordan. World Archaeology. 39, no. 1 (2007): 84-104.
- Lavinia, Stan and Lucian Turcescu. “Politics, National Symbols and the Romanian Orthodox Cathedral.” Europe-Asia Studies. 58, no. 7 (2006): 1119-39.
- Maranci, Christian. “Building Churches in Armenia: Art at the Borders of Empire and the Edge of the Canon.” Art Bulletin. 88, no. 4 (2006): 656-75.
- Mattox, Philip. “Domestic Sacral Space in the Florentine Renaissance Palace.” Renaissance Studies. 20, no. 5 (2006): 658-73.
- Velthuis, Kirsten and Dirk H. R. Spennemann. “The Future of Defunct Religious Buildings: Dutch Approaches to Their Adaptive Re-use.” Cultural Trends. 16 no. 1 (2007): 43-66.
- Turcescu, Lavinia, Stan and Lucian. “Politics, National Symbols and the Romanian Orthodox Cathedral.” Europe-Asia Studies, 58.7 (2006): 1119-39.
- Williamson, Beth. “Locating Religious Experience: The Interaction of Images and Architecture, Space and Action.” Art History. 29, no. 5 (2006): 931-7.