Extended Use of Religious Heritage Buildings Project

This project aims to promote the extended use of religious buildings as a respectful,
sustainable and adapted solution to the present issue of the under-use of, and lack of
support for, historic churches. It will collect case studies of examples where extended
use of religious buildings, by which we mean an added use, not replacing the sacred but
existing in symbiosis. Disseminating invaluable experience, research, and good-practice,
it will fill an important gap in the intercultural dialogue on cultural heritage in Europe.
The study is a pilot, which will serve to inform larger scale research in the future.

Religious buildings in Europe are under threat of redundancy due to financial challenges and under-use.

Losing these buildings will not only mean an irreversible large-scale loss to the community of a particularly meaningful heritage and resource, but will also cause a mental trauma for large parts of the population.

There are more and more publications about wholesale and often unsympathetic reuse of redundant churches, but designers too rarely consider more subtle and complex shared use as an alternative, even though interesting realisations and promising projects already exist in many European countries. The concept of ‘shared use’ covers a variety of creative, public solutions in combination with on-going worship. Shared use can be widely interpreted and can include amongst other things, mixed use of the same space, or the partition of space for different users. Such solutions increase use of the buildings and bring added financial support towards maintenance.

The ultimate goal of this project is to offer long-term solutions to one of the most
valuable parts of Europe’s heritage as well as promote Europe’s religious heritage
buildings as a common cultural area for a pluralist society.

Benington, UK extended use

Benington All Saints regeneration project, let by the Churches Conservation Trust in the UK.