Water plays a significant role in the sacred rituals and beliefs of the Christian Church. There are a number of biblical stories where water is one of the key features – ranging from the widespread floods in the story of Noah and the Ark, to Jesus’ Miracle of converting water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana. As a result water is heavily imbued with symbolic meaning and is subsequently incorporated into the design of many traditional religious spaces to meet both symbolic and spiritual needs.
In more modern religious architecture water may also embody another form of symbolism and offer another dimension, not specifically religious, to the spirituality of the place. This is highlighted by the different ways water in which is incorporated into traditional and contemporary church architecture. In the traditional church buildings the presence of water is not (merely) included as a visual element, as this water is used in the ceremonial rituals and is handled by participants. This differs in contemporary religious architecture as there may be some architectural elements of water which do not directly have a role in the rituals, although the presence of the water is still spatially significant.
This thesis is an investigation into the role that water plays, as an architectural and symbolic element, in the architecture of religious buildings. This thesis will also examine the non-secular symbolism associated with these architectural elements and how this symbolism contributes to the sense of spirituality within the space. Case studies will be utilized to demonstrate this role of water within religious architectural schemes.