SWEDEN – Protecting the treasures in churches with artificial DNA

The churches in Sweden want to stop theft by marking their treasures with artificial DNA. The challenge is to find safe methods that do not damage the objects.
- We need methods for identifying our objects. Sometimes they are lost for as much as 50 years, says Patrik Olsson. He is Chief Executive of Kyrkans Forsakring AB, which is the reponsible body for finding safety measures for the Church of Sweden.

Kyrkorna vill nu stoppa stölder genom att märka sina kulturskatter med konstgjort dna. Utmaningen är att hitta säkra metoder så att kulturföremålen inte tar skada.
– Vi behöver metoder för att säkert identifiera våra föremål. Ibland kan de vara försvunna i upp till 50 år, säger Patrik Olsson. Han är vd för Kyrkans Försäkring AB som ansvarar för att hitta säkerhetslösningar för Svenska kyrkan.

via Dna-märkning ska skydda kyrkoskatter – DN.SE.

SPAIN – Photography contest with Romanic theme

After the great interest in the first edition of the competition, with more than 570 works entered, the web-portal Romanico Digital, powered by the Fundation Santa Maria la Real, launch the second edition of the competition. The aim of the event is to contribute to the promotion and dissemination of Romanic art in the Iberian Peninsula.

Tras el éxito de participación alcanzado en la primera edición, con más de 570 trabajos presentados, el portal www.romanicodigital.com, gestionado por la Fundación Santa María la Real,  convoca el II Concurso de Fotografía. El objetivo del certamen es contribuir a la promoción y difusión del arte románico de la Península Ibérica.

via Agencia vídeos culturales, identidad corporativa y montajes exposiciones. Fundación Santa María La Real.

SWEDEN – Conference on Church tourism to conserve the heritage

13-14 May, Arvika – Sweden
Organised by the Church of Sweden

Churches are captivating spaces where many meanings and stories meet. How can church tourism help conserve the churches? The churches are a part of the shared heritage and they are managed by the congregations across Sweden. To help conserve the heritage, the state supports this effort with ca SEK 500m (ca EURO 50m) every year. Minister for Culture in Sweden, Lena Adelsson Liljeroth will attend the event, and Don Caputo, Director of the Pastoral Tourism and Cultural Heritage for the Patriarchate of Venice and Director of Museo Diocesano d’Arte Sacra in Italy, is one of the speakers.

Kyrkomiljöerna är spännande platser där många betydelser och berättelser möts. Hur kan kyrkoturism vara ett sätt att bevara kyrkomiljöerna? Frågan diskuteras på den årliga konferensen om det kyrkliga kulturarvet i Arvika den 13-14 maj. Våra kyrkor är en del av det Svenska kulturarvet, en gemensam kulturskatt. De förvaltas och sköts av församlingarna runt om i landet. För att bevara detta kulturarv skjuter staten till en ekonomisk ersättning på ca 500 miljoner varje år. Frågor kring det kyrkliga kulturarvet kommer att avhandlas vid en rikskonferens i Arvika den 13-14 maj 2013 då bland annat kulturminister Lena Adelsson Liljeroth närvarar.

via Svenska kyrkan – Kyrkoturism lyft för kulturarvet – Mynewsdesk.

TURKEY – Mosque conversion raises alarm

One of the most important monuments of late Byzantium, the 13th-century Church of Hagia Sophia in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, which is now a museum, will be converted into a mosque, after a legal battle that has dramatic implications for other major historical sites in Turkey. Many in Turkey believe that the Church of Hagia Sophia is a stalking horse for the possible re-conversion of its more famous namesake in Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia Museum (Ayasofya Müzesi).

via Mosque conversion raises alarm – The Art Newspaper.

Lloyd, Matthew, “Extended Use of a Parish Church in London, UK: A Case Study”

St David’s Church, Holloway was originally built in 1866-9 by architect E.L. Blackburne, but was substantially re-built in 1935-6 following a fire. It is a locally listed building, i.e., deemed of architectural and historical significance by the local authority (London Borough of Islington); it is one of the few monuments to provide stability in an area where the majority of the buildings were redeveloped in the post-war rebuilding/ slum clearance programme. Its parish was merged with the adjacent Parish of St Mary Magdalene in 1984, though a Greek Orthodox congregation who had previously shared the church with the Anglicans continued to use the building until they obtained premises of their own in 2004.

When the premises became vacant, the congregation of St David’s, who had been meeting in their adjoining old church Hall, were keen to reclaim the building, to house a new church and to accommodate their various community projects. The Hall was sold and developed as housing, to finance this project for the extended-use of the church building. In effect, the brief was to take all the original functions from the church hall and place them within the volume of the existing, vacant original church building. Matthew Lloyd Architects was appointed by the Parochial Church Council, led by their very innovative minister who, prior to ordination, had worked as a buildings surveyor. There follows a more detailed discussion of the project at St David’s Holloway, North London.

Traditionally, town churches sit within open grounds, perhaps on a “church square”, within a garden or a graveyard. St David’s however is situated within a linear street of predominantly Victorian buildings, with its strong gable end marking its presence and distinguishing it from its neighbours. Its existing, non-original lean-to porch was uninviting, and at odds with the regular geometry of the street. A new stone-clad porch of slimmer dimensions and contemporary proportions is carefully positioned under the existing high level window and gives the building’s frontage a sense of grandeur that the church had previously lost. Its vertical proportions, combined with those of the window above, lift the façade and offer the opportunity for a large opening into the church itself, while its geometry conveys a sense of belonging to the fabric of the street and the city beyond.

The central challenge of this project was the retention of a beautiful worship space within the new framework of social activity. The interior design concentrates on the sequence of spaces experienced when entering the building. The stone-clad front porch leads onto a double height entrance hall via seamless wall and floor finishes. The hallway acts as a transitional space between the busy outside world and the spiritual atmosphere of the worship hall, giving time for visitors to collect their thoughts before proceeding further. This transition is reinforced by the contrast between the dark smooth cladding of the entrance and the bright textured finishes of the worship space, signifying entry into the Light.

Stepping into the worship space should inspire a sense of awe and sacredness; the space is light and airy, yet intimate and inviting in size and proportion. The traditional Greek cross shape has been retained, with the chancel to the east. All the original features are kept, though some columns and arches are concealed to allow a seamless relationship between the new and existing geometries. The cladding is of a textured surface resembling flowing water, a symbol of purity. Light flows through the original high clerestory, creating shadowy patterns as it falls and evoking an atmosphere of meditation and contemplation.

The ground floor includes a double-height prayer room, where visitors can seclude themselves for silent reflection, without going further into the building. A new vestry links the worship space to the church office, with a new reception desk in the entrance hall. The entrance hall also serves as a community café, with counters that can open into it from the new kitchen. The entrance hall also serves community administration and meeting rooms on the newly created first floor. A bridge links the two wings across the hallway, and offers elevated views outward to the street, or down into the worship space below. A large meeting room on the second floor benefits from the magnificent front window and open roof space. A new basement has been created beneath the original church nave to accommodate a 6th Form College for the local Church of England secondary school; the addition of this function opened up additional funding for the building works. This flexible, open space is used in the evenings by the local youth club, and includes ancillary computer and music rooms and a kitchen. Side access has been created to provide a formal entrance to the 6th Form College / Youth Club.

The construction of the final design is now 50% complete; the building will open for use in September 2013. This new model of development – ‘church-intensification’ – is becoming increasingly relevant to churches in the United Kingdom, combating under-use and responding to falling congregations, rising costs, and limited public and charitable funding.

Matthew Lloyd
Matthew Lloyd Architects LLP
London UK




SWEDEN – Advanced studies in religious heritage conservation: “3500 churches – Problem or opportunity?”

Swedish churches are currently under­going some of the most comprehensive changes in their thousand­year old history. This is one of the most pressing issues facing heritage specialists in Sweden. There are some 3,500 structures under the auspices of the Church of Sweden employing a multi­tude of different materials and technologies and presenting a range of conservation issues. The buildings date from the medieval period to the postwar era. The 1950s and 1960s churches are worthy of preservation and many are in need of their first major conser­vation intervention. These buildings were designed by such well known architects as Peter Celsing, Rolf Bergh, Carl Nyrén and Sigurd Lewerentz.

In this course we will examine and explore the latest research and methods for managing the changes required to save Swedish churches. Course activities include field trips with professionals, exploration of case studies, and in­depth seminars. We will on the challenges and opportunities in conserving Swedish church architecture.


UK – Research results: “New ideas need old buildings” By the Heritage Lottery fund

Historic buildings and the historic quarters of our major towns and cities are the very places where new ideas and new growth are most likely to happen.The research we publish in this report shows that the commercial businesses based in the historic buildings of our major cities are more productive and generate more wealth than is the average for all commercial businesses across the whole economy.

via New ideas need old buildings – Heritage Lottery Fund.

NORWAY – Stave churches will have EUR 1.3 mil for emergency work

It became clear that the stave-churches need better security after the arson of Fantoft in 1992. But the work is still not finished. The Ministry of Environment has realised the grave situation and will increase the funds available in a revised budget.

Etter at Fantoft stavkirke ble påtent og brant ned i 1992, ble det klart at stavkirkene måtte sikres bedre. Men arbeidet er ennå ikke ferdig, skriver Aftenposten. Avisen skriver at Miljøverndepartementet mener situasjonen er så akutt at de bevilger ekstra midler i revidert statsbudsjett [10 milj NOK].

via Stavkirkene får 10 millioner i «nødhjelp» – Fortidsminneforeningen The society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments avdeling.

EUROPE – Event: Night of the churches on 25 May

Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia and Germany

The annual “Night of the Churches” will take place on 24.05.2013

The churches across these European Countries will open their doors again this year to the visitors who will have a fantastic opportunity to explore towers, vestries, chapels and cloisters. The organisers, supported by invaluable help of volunteers, have prepared a wide range of activities, through which they aim to raise the awareness of the rich cultural heritage and encourage the involvement of the local communities.

For more information please follow this link for the national websites.