MASONIC

SYNERGY | RESEARCH ANALYSIS

This research was used to critically analyse and engage with the given interior, in order to identify the cause for the occurring engagement deficiency so that I could provide an appropriate design solution.

Site Analysis

The site for small scale intervention is located within the boundary of the foyer. This space currently has very little function; acting more as a transitional space for the events and functions hosted within the Grand Lodge. At the entrance, there is an internal porch that is fixed with three arcaded glazed doors that are guarded by latticed bronze doors (Hollis, 2019). The foyer in comparison to the rest of the institution displays a far more reserved approach to its decoration. It is defined by symmetry, with Doric and Tuscan ordered columns at each wall intersection, with two alcoves mirroring on either side creating an aesthetic harmony. 

My Initial Impressions

To capture my honest first impression of the Grand Lodge, I recorded the observations and reactions that I had made and felt within the different parts of the Masonic Grand Lodge. This was so I could make out what distinguished the characteristics of each section. 

GEORGE STREET

  • Private Building

  • Restricted Access

  • Traditional and Formal

UPPER LEVELS

  • Warm

  • Intricate 

  • Symbolic

  • Colourful

  • Tactile

  • Populated 

  • Historical

  • Transformative, referring to the craftsmanship found within the Grand Lodge.

  • Foreign vs. Local, referring to the artefacts that were gifted to the Freemasons’ and discovered by the Freemasons’.

  • Old vs. Young, referring to the modern furnishings that sit alongside the traditional furnishings. 

  • Individualistic, referring to the fact that each interior space within the Grand Lodge was designed for its specific purpose, with on-of-a-kind decorations.

FOYER

  • Cold

  • Austere

  • Dark

  • Uninviting

  • Intimidating

  • No directional bearing

  • Abandoned Atmospheric Sensation 

  • Lack of Masonic Representation

  • Lack of Inhabitation

A Collection of the Detail
The Occupants Profile

The origins of Freemasonry is unknown, although the founding of organised Freemasonry was documented in the founding of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717, with Ireland following in 1725 and Scotland in 1736 (How and when did Freemasonry start, 2019). The Freemason's reputation has not always been a positive one, often seen as an ‘elitist boys’ club’; this couldn’t be further from the truth. For over 200 years Freemasonry was only open to men but in 1908, in England, the first female lodge was opened. Opened with a male Grand Master, but his successors have all been women, with men not being permitted to join the lodge (Mackay, 2018). Living by simple but honourable principles, the Freemasons believe in brotherly love, charity and the truth (The Grand Lodge of Scotland, 2019). These principles are built into a Freemason's daily life as a law-abiding citizen (The Grand Lodge of Scotland, 2019). 

 

To become a Freemason, one must complete a series of degrees. Divided into three degrees: the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow of the Craft and Master Mason (Augustyn et al., 2019). The candidate progresses to the next degree when he has grasped the teachings of one degree (The Grand Lodge of Scotland, 2019). The traditional framework of the Masonic Degrees is based on the stories of King Solomon’s Temple, using the activities and traditional skills of those who designed and built the Temple (The Grand Lodge of Scotland, 2019).

 

Freemasonry is not a religious institute of any kind, it has no ‘Masonic’ God (The Grand Lodge of Scotland, 2019). Freemasonry has faced great opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and other various states. The reasonings were due to attracting members, in Latin countries, who questioned the Dogma or opposed the clergy; Membership of protestants in Anglo-Saxon regions and some Lodges being charged with prejudice against Jews, Catholics, and nonwhites (Augustyn et al., 2019). 

However, at present, the Freemasons believe a man’s religion is precious and personal to himself, and discussions on the matter cause altercations between brothers. Meaning Freemasons do not discuss their religious or political views with each other, but each address their own Supreme Being during prayer (The Grand Lodge of Scotland, 2019). This is all in the effort to unite all Freemasons irrespective of colour and belief (Augustyn et al., 2019).

 

With six million members worldwide, it is often wrongly stated that Freemasonry is a secret society (The Grand Lodge of Scotland, 2019). The Grand Lodge of Scotland publishes their meetings in the local press, along with their principles and practices. The lodge is open to the public as well as used by Non-Freemasons. Members are allowed to reveal their membership if they wish to do so. The Freemasons are also highly involved in various forms of charity work and are also one of the top charitable organisations within the UK, which many people do not know (The Grand Lodge of Scotland, 2019).

 

The only Masonic ‘secrets’ there are the methods that members of various degrees use globally to recognise and greet each other (The Grand Lodge of Scotland, 2019).  Simply put ‘it is not a secret society, but a society with secrets.’

Engagement Concerns

A summary of what I believe are the issues that cause a lack of year-round engagement with the Grand Lodge.

  • No connection to the city

  • No connection to the upper floors

  • No connection to the present

  • Difficult transition into the building

  • Secretive perception to the public

  • Lack of Masonic Representation

While all six of these should be addressed, the two main concerns I believe that are the biggest factors when it comes to the deficiency in public engagement is the lack of masonic representation within the foyer and the secretive perception of the Freemasons.

To summarise - the Freemasons’ Grand Lodge is full of history, tradition, ceremony, and symbolism. These elements are evident within the architecture and decoration of the individual rooms within the building. But the same could not be said for the gates into the Masonic world, the foyer. It’s not cohesive with the rest of the establishment and it leaves the first introduction to the Masonic world uninviting and cold, which further perpetuates the idea that the Masons are impersonal to outsiders.

 

But how do I reach the public? When does the Grand Lodge engage with the public? I believe the best option is to take advantage of when the buildings access is unrestricted - during the ‘Fringe Festival.’ The lodge becomes an event space and has reported that it receives over 70,000 people through its doors during the Festival season.

CITATION

Southwalesmason.com. (2019). How and when did Freemasonry start? - Freemasonry in South Wales. [online] Available at: https://www.southwalesmason.com/faqs/how-and-when-did-freemasonry-start/ [Accessed 23 Oct. 2019].

Augustyn, A, Bauer, P, Duignan, B, and others (2019). Freemasonry | Definition, History, Beliefs, & Facts. [online] Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/order-of-Freemasons [Accessed 23 Oct. 2019].

Mackay, H. (2018). Freemasons explain the rituals and benefits of membership. [online] BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43005770 [Accessed 23 Oct. 2019].

The Grand Lodge of Scotland. (2019). The Grand Lodge of Scotland. [online] Available at:

https://www.grandlodgescotland.com/ [Accessed 23 Oct. 2019].

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