Signature Sight & Sound

Acoustics/Room Geometry – Houses of Worship

Acoustics/Room Geometry - Houses of Worship

Is it “form follows function” or “function follows form”? Regardless, the aesthetic aspects of the building are important, but the functionality of the space is paramount.

We would never buy a car that looked great but did not run. Consequentially, why would we design a building that looks wonderful but is not optimized for presentation? After all, the church facility is a presentation venue.

Think about it. That’s the role of the building. The role of the church as an institution is to present the good news to the people and minister to the congregation. If the congregation (audience) cannot hear, worship suffers. If they cannot see, their worship experience is hindered. If the worship leaders and technical staff cannot see or hear, it makes it very difficult for them to lead the congregation into worship.

If the church goes from a 500-seat facility to a 2000-seat facility, it is inevitable that the “feel” of the sanctuary will change. If what was once an intimate space suddenly feels cold and disconnected to the congregation, the worship will suffer. What’s the answer? Properly planned and implemented technology.

During the initial planning phase, a good technology firm – one who is well versed in all aspects of presentation and performance technologies – can provide valuable information and design solutions relative to room geometry that can help limit the amount of acoustical treatments used in the space. Furthermore, much thought should be given to materials used in the space. Carpet, wall coverings, ceiling materials and seating systems are all necessary components in worship facilities. The acoustical value of these materials should be considered when making choices.

Stage and choir space materials are another area where mistakes are made. What is the criterion for selecting these materials? If you have ever heard a 35-voice choir moving on a hollow wooden stage during a Christmas performance, you know what I mean. They can sound like a cattle herd. Taking into account all aspects of the function of the space when making these decisions can be very important to the overall sound, and also save money down the road.