What makes a place of worship worth exploring?

This resource uses the John Laing Photographic Collection to help pupils explore their local built heritage. It focuses on the places of worship built by John Laing. They built many places of worship, for people of different faiths, all across the country. Pupils will look at a selection of these and use them as a starting point for looking at architecture and the role of an architect. They will create criteria for building a place of worship, sketch their designs, and use ‘junk modelling’ to share their designs with others.

Although this PPT is written as a teacher-led classroom presentation, it is designed so that all the ‘activities’ and ‘research tasks’ within it could be done by pupils as part of their home learning.

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Teaching idea

What makes a place of worship worth exploring?

Pupils start by discussing what they think architecture might be. What is an architect? What do they think an architect actually does? Then having learned more about the basic principles or architecture they use archive images as a primary source of evidence to look at the different places of worship built by the John Laing Building Company.

They are encouraged to look for different features, symbols, and building materials across the places of worship. These can then be linked to wider themes of music, lighting, seating, etc. Having looked a range of different buildings they are then invited to become ‘honorary architects’ – creating their own set of ‘success criteria’ for a place of worship, based on what they’ve discovered so far.

After watching films by architects talking about how they design a building, pupils then use this information and their criteria to design their own place of worship. Their designs can then be drawn, modelled, or made in Minecraft so that they can be shared with the whole class. This gives an opportunity to return to the original ‘success criteria’ and use these as a reference point for peer assessment.

Learning aims and outcomes

  • Use images as a primary source of evidence to explore the historic built environment and the role played by places of worship within it.
  • Understand the role of an architect and the skills they’d need to become one.
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of how the built environment and architecture can be shaped by different religious, ethnic, and cultural influences.
  • Use research and an understanding of key features of religious buildings to develop criteria to inform the design of innovative, functional, appealing buildings that are fit for purpose, aimed at particular individuals or groups.

Prior knowledge

  • An understanding that not all places of worship were built at the same time or in the same way.
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