She goes on to say that houses were designed as if nature were infinitely benign and humans infinitely robust. Traditional, practical solutions to the problems of sun and cold and weather and insects and prying eyes have been ignored, and much modern design is "only to impress the guests". She concludes that "This wasn't incompetence. It was philosophy."
These sentiments resonate with Mark Tronson, chairman of Well-Being Australia, when it comes to religious structures as there continues to be much debate as to what the church building might accommodate.
In the past thirty years two broadly different types of church buildings have been erected.
The first example, the traditional building which consists of a stand-alone sanctuary which is set aside for Sunday worship and other formal occasions, such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, and some mid week services.
The seats or pews are set up in a certain way and unless there is a very special reason, there they remain until the sanctuary is updated, refreshed or renovated.
Although this is essentially a worship facility, there are often additions to accommodate more informal activities associated with the congregation; and one finds side rooms, back rooms, and sometimes an attached (or close-by) hall.
The second alternative is a very different building. Here the building constructed is more like a modern giant barn, with a huge stage large enough to house either the greatest symphony orchestra or any New York show. There are also several screens, and the latest electronic technology to broadcast the sermon and the musical items, as well as the words to all the hymns, and every other aspects of the service to those even in the furthest corner of the vast hall (or even those attending to the children in the creche in another part of the building).
The church's modern band has plenty of room to set up, the preacher has the breadth and width of the stage area to pace around and interact with the audience, with the aid of wireless microphones; and the auditorium is so high that the high trapeze would feel comfortable.
In many of the more affluent congregations, there might be mammoth additional halls, meeting rooms, offices, sports facilities, swimming pools (indoor and out), volleyball and basketball courts, television and audio studios, coffee shops, restaurants ….. you name, these buildings have it.
As Elizabeth Farrelly points out, "its all about philosophy".
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson, a Baptist minister says that the two models have philosophies as far apart as is the east from the west or as chalk and cheese.
The first exhibits a philosophy that is contained and constrained, whereas the second is bold, out-there, thinking big and bigger – and with an eye to what is practical and what is desired by many modern congregations.
There is no divide along denominational lines, as many Denominations exhibit both. There are Baptist Churches constructed in the past 30 years in the first model such as Moruya Baptist Church (NSW south coast) while the Reedy Creek Baptist Church (Qld Gold Coast) exhibits the second model.
M V Tronson says that the philosophy of ministry of the congregation and its leaders has an impact as to which model is constructed. Although the available land can be a mitigating factor, congregations desiring one model or the other can find ways of raising money to construct what they think is appropriate (such as selling assets or other land owned by the church).
In our open and democratic society, where there is not only freedom of speech, but freedom of religion as well, Mark Tronson feels that it is positive that congregations can choose what philosophy of worship and church membership they like, and that the society has the resources for them to build the appropriate buildings to 'fit' their philosophy.
Time will tell whether they have built something that is practical, and not just something that Elizabeth Farrelly would think is just 'to impress the visitors'.