Simplicity, spirituality and style


The new inclusion. Modern churches know they have to be about more than worship to draw people together within their spaces. They need to flex for multiple purposes – from concerts, performances and exhibitions, to baby singing groups and even yoga classes. 


So, just as UUFCO seats a 250-person congregation on its polished concrete-floored space, it has also hosted a 60-strong choir on its stage, a 30-piece orchestra on its floor and 230 seated guests. 


Fully flexible. To be able to accommodate all these functions, modern sanctuary seating also needs to be flexible, so that it can be set up, wholly reconfigured or cleared altogether, all without fuss. It’s for these reasons that our 40/4 has been so popular with churches – for its simplicity, grace and robustness, indeed, but also for its ability to be stacked to 40 chairs in height atop specially designed dollies that are easily operated by a single person. 


Functional art. In an editorial about UUFCO in Church Designer magazine, the 40/4 chair was described as ‘functional art’ and ‘just as unique and timeless as the building itself’. Indeed, in the church’s selection of the chair, it again shows its appreciation for its desert surroundings, as evidenced in the various tones chosen for its 40/4s, of subtle greens, browns and greys through to several soft colours that call to mind the landscape’s springtime wildflowers.



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Despite being a modern build, the award-winning Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon (UUFCO) building in Bend, Oregon has been praised for its feeling of sanctuary.


For Portland-based architectural studio Hacker, the greatest guiding force in the design of the UUFCO building was the landscape around it. Its 22-acre site, anonymously donated to the church in 2011 and volcanic high desert in character, features a grove of Ponderosa pines that the building was constructed to orientate around. The ground around it was also returned to its native wild state to avoid it looking too landscaped.


The building, clad in three different stains of cedar, is all elegant simplicity, its rectangular shape ‘fractured’ to look like a fallen log. Inside, its wood-clad walls and ceilings connect it to nature, while giving it warm, soothing feel. The result is a combination of clean, flowing lines that delight the eye, and rectangular vertical and horizontal lines that deliver a sense of stability. 

“Modern churches know they have to be about more than worship to draw people together within their spaces.”



The timeless surroundings

While traditional places of worship are usually high-ceilinged, elegant rooms that inspire reflection and contemplation, their modern descendants also function as multi-purpose buildings and venues for cultural events such as seminars, concerts, lectures, and children’s workshops. That requires flexible furniture solutions, so the worship sector has become a strong niche for HOWE.


Photo: Lara Swimmer


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