079 Churches West Flanders
Study on the re-use of twenty churches
in collaboration with De Smet Vermeulen architects
Procedure Architecture competition
Client West Flanders Intermunicipal Company & related municipalities
Date 2014 – 2015
It concerns a large-scale study on the re-use of churches in the Province of West Flanders. Based on the conviction that each church is unique and that general solutions do not exist, design research was the appropriate method. The design aspect distinguishes this work from the policy studies that are underway in other places.
This multifaceted design research has provided us with a very broad experience with the restoration, reuse and redevelopment of important architectural heritage that churches are. The repurposing of churches is more than a reaction to the financial burden of management. The task also appeals to our ability to think pluralistically and identify what binds a community together. The 22 churches we investigated by means of design all provoked a different scenario in this respect. Some required a bold redefinition and a significant investment, some needed a step-by-step plan to anticipate what could be expected, and some just needed a simple rearrangement to make the church relevant again.