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What can a Building Be?

What can a Building Be?


Four walls and a roof are just the starting point. Words: Richard Dalman

What is a building? What can it be? Bits of concrete, steel, timber, glass? Some or all of these of course, but buildings can be and should be more, much
more. They can be functional places to do business, to live in, for recreation and cultural events, or for meetings and worship.

Buildings can provide places for people to come together to celebrate, and they can help unite a community. Think of the QEII Stadium in 1974 for the Commonwealth Games, the Christchurch Town Hall for the last concert you attended, your local corner pub or the Transitional Cathedral discussed in my last article. Buildings can not only keep us warm or cool and the rain off our heads, they can keep us secure, surprise and delight us, have meaning and soul, and become an important part of our everyday lives. When the new Salvation Army building was opened on the corner of Colombo and Salisbury streets, the congregation were asked to write one word that summed up how they felt about their building. These words have been grouped together and can be seen on this page.

As the architects for the building, we are particularly proud of the words “home”, “family” and “sanctuary”. The Salvation Army have had a long journey from
their Durham Street Citadel to their new Colombo Street premises, with many temporary locations between. Upon entering the new building, what you don’t see is the cross of Jesus in plan, but what you do experience on the main circulation route is the long axis of the cross, with most of the spaces radiating off this. These spaces include the worship hall, which sits on the street corner so is most visible. The concrete fins to Colombo Street represent the Salvation Army’s eleven Articles of Faith which form their core beliefs. It is through these fins that they see out to the community during worship. Because the Salvation Army is very much connected to the community, the two wings either side of the worship hall are fully glazed with columns
that create a front porch to each of the two main streets. These say, “welcome, come in”. This building can be and is open to the community, welcoming all
people in. So while this building is made of concrete, steel, wood and glass, it is more than this. It is already a place of worship and a local community hub, and
time will tell what other roles the building will have and what meaning it will create in people’s lives.