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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/25855

Title: Heritage without heirs? Reconnecting church and community through adaptive reuse.
Authors: Vande Keere, Nikolaas
Plevoets, Bie
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Köme
Citation: Banks, Marie (Ed.). Interpret Europe: Conference 2018 – Proceedings, Köme,p. 195-207
Abstract: Churches have historically been part of the collective identity of local communities in Europe. Current developments, like secularisation and immigration, can be seen as eroding processes, leading to depopulation of churches and undermining this sense of identity. Adaptive reuse in this context often disregards the complex spiritual and social potential of religious heritage. Churches risk becoming heritage without heirs. In our (design) research we show how adaptive reuse of churches can be based on intangible heritage values. To appeal to a broader group, including future generations and migrant communities, we want to transform the use and meaning of the church from within. Rather than replacing a sense of spirituality or community, we seek to reactivate and strengthen it by adding new layers. We focus on two urban cases in Belgium and show how they can reclaim a collective identity: Transformation of the protected church of St-Jozef into a community centre in the socially charged neighbourhood of Rabot in Ghent. Adaptation of the modernist church of St-Alena to a migrant church and other functions for the neighbourhood of St-Gillis in Brussels. We aim to prove that adaptive reuse of church architecture can seize the opportunity to gather and (re)integrate diverse communities in the spirit of its former use. We want to interpret adaptive reuse beyond a spatial or functional transformation as a renewal of (religious) identity. We aim to open up historic sites and buildings initially intended for a local community by inviting new inhabitants. This work implies a changing understanding of heritage not only as a witness of history but also as a source for the future, able to adapt to a changing society and incorporate new social values.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/25855
Category: C2
Type: Proceedings Paper
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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