Faith in the Periphery. Design research on the adaptive reuse of post-war churches in the Flemish Nebulous City

As part of the rapid suburban expansion in the after-war period, a very important number of parish churches were built across Flanders. Today, because of their age, location and typology, post-war churches are confronted with several societal challenges. The research project Faith in the Periphery looks at modern churches as resources for future urban development. Churches are indeed very valuable assets in this regard: often strategically located and representing large volumes, they (still) play an important role in the local community as a mental and geographical beacon. Beyond merely adapting a given church building to new functional requirements, we seek to develop balanced strategies for the adaptive reuse of churches that capitalizes upon their socially and spatially structuring capacity. In order to identify and operationalise this capacity the research will mainly rely on research-by-design. We believe that architectural design forms a pathway through which new insights, knowledge and practices come into being. Hence, the underlying motivation is to contribute to the more general imperative of strengthening the future resilience of the Flemish Nebulous City.

Funded by: international BOF-KU Leuven fund
Promotor: Sven Sterken [hyperlink to Sven’s page]
Co-Promotor: Roel De Ridder
Phd student working on the project: Charlotte Ardui
Project blog: