A 1000 sf storefront space in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn transformed into a home for St. Lydia’s Dinner Church, a growing congregation affiliated with the Lutheran and Episcopal churches. The congregants had previously worshipped in each other’s homes and rented space from other institutions. Worship is designed to be open, inviting, casual yet fully engaging and participatory. A Eucharistic Liturgy is centered around a shared meal prepared by congregants, gathered around 3 custom-designed modular oval tables seating 10 each. During the week the space transforms, by rearranging of the custom modular table sections, into a flexible and quiet co-working office space for local freelancers, and is also available to the local community for art openings and other cultural events.
The design process focused on creating a welcoming, flexible, sacred and safe space for all who enter. The congregation was involved in all phases of the design and construction process, from a pre-design community charette, to lime-washing the existing brick party wall.
Finishes were chosen and details designed to express the values of the community: handmade and well made, warm and inviting, hearth-centered, and natural. An open-plan, custom designed kitchen in the rear of the space and open shelves throughout invite all congregants to participate in setup and cleanup. A slatted wooden canopy creates a moment of transition from the street, integrating with a pegboard message center and tract area. The canopy contains integrated lights which cast a patterned glow on the floor during evening services. A custom pew-like banquette at the storefront provide a place to socialize and store bags and coats. Metal bars hung from the ceiling provide an armature for customizable lighting and textiles to mark the changing liturgical seasons, as well as provide acoustical absorption. All built-in cabinetry and tables were custom-designed by the architect and built by a local millworker.