The context of contemporary architectural scholarship and research, as indicated by ACSA and other architectural conference proceedings, funded projects, journal publications, topics and guest speakers at most schools’ lecture series, indicate that the interrelationship of architecture, culture and spirituality is a subject area that has been inadequately covered.
We recognize that groups such as IFRAA (the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture), EAP (Environmental and Architectural Phenomenology), Built Form and Culture, SAH (Society of Architectural Historians) and EDRA have engaged this area of scholarship. However, these efforts have remained relatively isolated and marginalized. However, given the central role that aesthetics and creativity play in architecture, their potentially rich, direct, and natural relationship with spirituality, along with the mounting quality and quantity of research work in the subject elsewhere, we believe that there is an increasing need to provide a forum to accommodate the growing number of architectural scholars, practitioners, and educators involved in these studies. Imperatives such as environmental and cultural sustainability add further impetus to these efforts.
Additionally, this effort may attract attention from other fields such as religious studies, integral psychology, philosophy (aesthetics, phenomenology, and hermeneutics), preservation and art criticism. Potential interest and even collaborations may also be possible with centers engaged in the scientific research of phenomena associated with spirituality.
Scholarship on architecture, culture and spirituality, offers significant opportunities for interdisciplinary studies. For example, insights and methods from comparative religion, cultural studies, environmental theories (sustainability), phenomenology, aesthetics, creativity, alternative medicine, psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, history, theology, psychoanalysis, art criticism, anthropology, hermeneutics, and spiritual traditions are essential to discern the connections between architecture and spirituality. Conversely, architectural research in this area may create new approaches for other disciplines. The current scientific and professional interest in the study of the mind and brain suggests potent interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-fertilization (See References).