looking for help…

anyone know of any non-faith specific communal ‘sacred’ spaces that have been designed in the inner city? i’m talking about something different to multi-faith chapels [i.e. a space that can inhabited by different faith groups at different times].

i guess i’m talking about the kind of space that epitomises a shared table, rather than radical hospitality – i.e. it wouldn’t be a space ‘owned’ by the christians, or indeed by any faith group, but a space that honours each of them and those who choose none of them. anyone get what i’m talking about [language is so clumsy]? anyone seen places where it happens? they must be out there somewhere…

[and i really don’t like the language of ‘sacred spaces’. i’m talking about third places, but third places that go into a fourth dimension. or something like that.]


  1. What about the steps of Flinders Street station? Not particularly ‘sacred’ in terms of the ambiance we might associate with ‘sacred’ but it is a meeting place.
    Also, Katherine Massam runs a unit at the CTM on ‘Sacred and Secular’. She might have a few ideas.

    =) Blair

  2. What about the Rothko Chapel in houston (rothkochapel.org)?

    I am not sure if it always serves as a shared table, but it is the site of many interreligious dialogs, the Oscar Romero Awards, and other justice issues as well.

    In many ways it is more of your first sentance: a communal, non-faith sacred space, then it is a shared table for lots of faiths. If you ever make it to this part of the world, the chapel is worth spending some time in.


  3. Cheryl

    Rothko chapel is closest to what i’m thinking of … [and it looks really interesting Nate, would love to have an excuse to visit it sometime!]. i’m thinking about places that have been specifically designed for individuals and groups to come to, to have an encounter with ‘something beyond’, if that makes sense.

  4. mike

    Ohh,,, an encounter with “something beyond”. You mean the MCG.

    Seriously though, we have an ephemeral labyrinth and an amazing new “meeting Place” garden with paths that meet coming from from a firepit and elements of a Marae (Maori meeting place). It invites all cultures to come and meet in the middle. Again, its in the open, and its not quite finished, but its very cool!


  5. Cheryl

    my encounters with ‘the beyond’ at the mcg normally include rain, hail and gale force winds…

    the labyrinth comes close, but i’m looking for spaces that can change over time – so the shell remains the same, but it’s designed for individual and community interaction.

    it’s basically the studio / cafe / artspace idea we’ve talked about before. i want to see where it’s happening, and in a non/multi faith context.

  6. bec

    The Grove (Brunswick)? (It’s women-only, of course).

    Not as sacred as what you’re looking for, but Melbourne Town Hall, or Ceres?

  7. If you think of Canberra the Mist Space in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery is such a spot: from the reeds rising out of the pool where a half submerged sculpture of the remains of an old wooden bridge (made of bronze) crawls forward in the mist, to the backdrop of Moore’s figure visible faintly from the mists. It has a spiritual pathos that allows you to absorb and rise.

  8. Cheryl

    Blair – i want a gallery kind of space, but somewhere that allows / encourages individual and communal interaction and thought beyond the artwork [or whatever] that’s on the walls. i’ve got the space to do something like this, and i’m looking to find people who have done it before [to steal their wisdom!]. Does that make sense?

    Marlene – that’s a gorgeous space, isn’t it.

  9. Sounds like you’re looking for a contemporary Stonehenge?

    It’s interesting how that site has been appropriated by so many different spiritualities, but is truly owned by none, and yet is the venue for a multiplicity of expressions and activities around spiritual themes.

    It’s a bit draughty in winter i expect…

    Grace and peace

  10. i’m a big fan of the eternity display at the national museum as a “sacred communal space” that changes, grows and moves with time…

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