First principle: harmony with law and an eye to serve the liturgy. Where does one find thay legal guidance? The GIRM, the RDCA, the rites and also canon law.
§ 28 §
1. The church building is designed in harmony with church laws and serves the needs of the liturgy. The liturgical books are the foundational source for those who wish to plan a building well suited for the liturgy. First among these are the prescriptions contained in the fifth chapter of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the norms in the introduction to the Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar. Other directives can be found in the various liturgical books and the Code of Canon Law.
Architects and pastors should be familiar with all these documents where they can be applied to the “geography” of the rites.
The bulleting is my edit here, but the text is unchanged:
§ 29 § Because the church is
- a house of prayer in which the Eucharist is celebrated and the Blessed Sacrament is reserved,
- a place where the faithful assemble,
- and a setting where Christ is worshiped,
it should be
- worthy of prayer and sacred celebration,
- built in conformity with the laws of the Church,
- and dignified with noble beauty and intrinsically excellent art. (CCC 1179; Presbyterorum Ordinis 5; cf. SC 122-127; GIRM 288)
The general plan of the building
- reflects the Church that Christ gathers there,
- is expressive of its prayer,
- fosters the members’ participation in sacred realities,
- and supports the solemn character of the sacred liturgy.
But there’s an addition in BLS 30:
§ 30 § The general plan of the building should be such that “in some way it conveys the image of the gathered assembly. It should also allow the participants to take the place most appropriate to them and assist all to carry out their function properly.”(RDCA II, 3)
BLS writers stick pretty close to the official line, as you see from the reference notes. Liam commented yesterday that there are not a lot of specifics to get us to the ideal. Much is left to a local interpretation, to whomever has the strgoner and more convincing approach between the local bishop, the pastor, the hired professionals, or the parishioners.
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.