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What are some common layouts of a church building?

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Quick Answer

Traditional types of church architecture include a basilica, with a large inside space and vaulted roof; the Latin cross, which adds two wings to the basilica design; and the central plan, which is usually square. Modern church layouts use aspects of the traditional forms but focus more on aesthetics, light and sound.

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Full Answer

The basilica evolved from a common Roman building, which featured a large rectangular hall, a gabled roof, and a semi-circular projection on the rear wall called an apse. The roof is high over the middle of the hall, and the sides of the upper walls have large rows of windows. Basilica designs, often seen in cathedrals, usually include a central aisle that separates the hall or nave into two sections that approach the altar.

Many Latin cross churches are basilicas divided by a transept, which crosses the main building and forms the shape of a cross. Some of these churches have long wings, while others have shorter projections that go just beyond the side aisles. Each transept may have a separate entrance and a small altar.

The central design features nave, sanctuary and transept arms of the same length. The overall shape can be a Greek cross, a square or an octagon. Central plan churches often feature domes and a vestibule, which stretches across the front of the church.

Modern church designs range from simple single room plans to more elaborate curved shapes that resemble museums. The designs are more focused on lines, light and sound, and how they work together in the space.

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