Drive-Into Church Xun Wang
Washington University in St. Louis: Graduate School of Architecture Degree Project: MArch 2020 Degree
Advisor: Sung Ho Kim
The United States of America is so-called “a nation on wheels”. Automobiles are so popular in this country and almost no one can live without owning car. Rooted in this profound culture and history of driving, multiple interactions between cars and architectures, such as drive-thru, drive-in, and tailgating party, had been spawned unsurprisingly.
Speaking of Cars, they not only offer us convenience in transportations, but comfort and private individual spaces and function as architecture. In terms of this, we could think of cars as “moving architecture”.
Considering a car as a moving architecture while a building as a stable condition, we could conceptually bind them together as a single architecture whose space is constantly in motion. For instance, think of McDonald’s drive-thru and its patrons. The cars are the moving entity and the fast-food restaurant is the motionless brick and mortar building. Because cars come and go as time goes by, space of the imagined architecture are always in transformation.
The Drive-Into Church is a research and experiment on the concept of moving architecture into an existing Central Presbyterian Church, located on Hanley Road, which is one of the busiest commercial corridors in the St. Louis, MO. Metropolitan Area. Intersecting with Interstate 64 highway, like other similar main roads all over the country, the road itself was simply designed for driving without considering pedestrian needs. With numerous driving-friendly facilities along the road, Hanley Road is a fruit of the country’s automotive culture that smoothly paves the road through the bible belt.
A church is a place full of temporary activities. People come to congregate as a community, do religious services, and they leave. The congregation has no choice but to share spaces of church and churches are not always comfortable for members who have disabilities. Additionally, during Covid Pandemic, conventional churches are extremely dangerous, because of their closed and crowded space.
Thus, a church with moving cars with private spaces is a good solution. Drive-Into Church is a new option in social gathering during these uneasy times that allows roads to become public spaces. Drive-Into Church holds many drive-ins and drive-thru services, as well as tailgating congregations. All of these allow people to participate in all kinds of religious activities in their cars with safety and privacy in mind. In this church everyone can meet the social distance requirements and stay safe. This help those who want to dress casually and who have disabilities and are inconvenient to get out of their cars as well. More importantly, this will help run the church financially.
As an urban space, Drive-Into Church is a good place for neighbors living nearby to have jogging, walking, biking, and hanging out with friends and families in the elevated infrastructure. With this unique form, it becomes a new landmark of St. Louis and a beacon and threshold to the neighborhood.