Multifaith spaces | 6 Nov 3.30pm

Multifaith Spaces 6 NovDo you ever use a prayer room or a quiet space?  Are you responsible for running one?

Join us for our next gathering on Wednesday 6 November at 3.30pm!

A big thank you to St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace for welcoming us to The Tent at 78 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AG.

Please pass this invitation and flyer to your networks and friends, especially chaplains and others who work in hospitals, FE colleges, universities, prisons, airports, offices and shopping centres.

We are delighted to welcome Revd Dr Terry Biddington from the University of Manchester who will be presenting his newly published paper, and we’ll be hearing brief responses from AbdoolKarim Vakil (King’s College, London) and from three regulars at LBFN gatherings: Siriol Davies (Diocese of Southwark), Rosalind Parker (researcher & practitioner in interfaith & the arts) and Steve Miller (Director of the Faith-based Regeneration Network).

How do these spaces open up new ways of thinking?  How do they affect the lives of local people – whether they are patients, students, staff, offenders, travellers, worshippers, shoppers or office workers?   Do multifaith spaces simply ‘house difference’ or do they bring people together (or alienate them)?  How do local churches, mosques, temples, gurdwaras and synagogues work in partnership with those responsible for multifaith spaces?  What do they say about how people from different traditions share London’s places and spaces?  How do they relate to the role of religion & belief in the public square?  What is the intention – and what actually happens in practice?  Does their presence have knock-on effects within our communities?

The Tent is a good place to have a wide-ranging conversation and it is mentioned in Terry’s paper.  If you have never visited St Ethelburga’s, this is a good opportunity.  Space is very comfortable but limited, so please let us know by November 5 if you’re planning to attend.

Simon Keyes, the Director of St Ethelburga’s, is hoping to join us for the discussion if his journey back to London on the 6th goes according to plan.


Multifaith spaces in London hospitals, prisons, airports, colleges & universities

Helen Sanderson of Quiet Room Designs, Rabbi Markus Lange of Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead and Imam Yunus Dudhwala, Head of Chaplaincy at Barts Health NHS Trust.

The latest newsletter from Manchester University’s Architecture Research Centre is published today.

It includes a short account of the Multi Faith Spaces Exhibition’s visit to London, hosted by LBFN at St Alphege, Southwark.

The seminars organised alongside the exhibition were well attended and very worthwhile, bringing practitioners together from across the capital.  Detailed discussion on the intricacies of design and management were made possible by the tight focus on shared space.

LBFN will be holding a follow-up event for practitioners in 2013.  Let us know what you would like included – workshop topics, speakers, practical sessions, theological bases?

The Multi Faith Spaces project welcomes further input, evidence, ideas and suggestions for the research which finishes later this year.  Email Dr Chris Hewson, who spoke at the opening event.

Download the newsletter here.

Multi-faith spaces

What’s your experience of quiet rooms, prayer rooms, multi-faith spaces? In hospitals, prisons, council offices, police headquarters?

What is the impact of these spaces?  There are plenty of them in London, many of them in the public sector.

Have you been part of a planning team?  Is there one where you work?  Do you make use of these spaces?

LBFN has invited Andrew Crompton, part of a research team from the University of Manchester, to tell us about the findings so far.  Andrew says,

” Most multi-faith spaces are windowless rooms with a suspended ceiling and cheap furniture (which looks like it’s come from IKEA) and home-made decorations – they’re kind of homely.

In fact they’re sort of vernacular expressions of spirituality.”

Andrew and his colleagues are investigating multi-faith spaces

  • as symptoms of specific societal trends and political ambitions
  • as works of architecture, shaped through the actions of architects, designers, engineers, artists, users, etc
  • as agents that encourage, shape or facilitate particular activities
  • as historical entities, that have developed and consolidated over time.

LBFN will pass on your comments to the team – or why not come along to our next meeting on the morning of Wednesday 14th September in Victoria (details from the Convener)?

Multi-faith spaces

Are there any multi-faith spaces (quiet rooms, prayer rooms) in your part of London?  Airports, hospitals, offices, prisons, colleges, workplace facilities?

They used to be windowless, cramped, drab and hard to find, but things have improved – St Ethelburga’s Tent, for a start.

Dr Chris Hewson (University of Manchester) wants people to contact him.  He’s doing some research on the significance of these spaces – digging deeper than just Equality & Diversity box-ticking, looking at motivation, syncretism, etc.

. . . many observers perceive MFS as tangible manifestations of
tolerance and pluralism, arguing that they represent an appropriate
course of collective action within a socio-religious landscape
characterised by (potentially dangerous) undercurrents of
fragmentation. However, issues also arise as to whether these spaces
are being created just to attract ‘customers’ – for example, to an
airport, shopping centre or university – or are used merely to promote
narrow social and/or political agendas.

Chris wants to

Tent at St Ethelburga’s (photo by Douglas Fry)

  1. Locate a wide range of multi-faith spaces to visit and survey.
  2. Speak with individuals who are (or have been) involved in their design and management.
  3. Locate and evaluate key documents and materials.

If you think you could help, email him on  Check the project’s webpage for more info.