Liturgy and Landscape: Re-Activating Christian Funeral Rites through Adaptive Reuse of a Rural Church and Its Surroundings as a Columbarium and Urn Cemetery

Samuel Goyvaerts, Nikolaas Vande Keere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

We present the design research for the adaptive reuse of the St. Odulphus church as a columbarium in the village of Booienhoven (BE). Surrounded by agriculture, the site is listed as a historic rural landscape. The small neoclassical church is no longer in use for traditional Catholic services and is abandoned. Positioned on an isolated “island”, it has the appropriate setting to become a place to remember and part from the dead. Instigated by the municipality, and taking into account the growing demand for cremation, we present topological research on three different liturgical and spatial levels: 1/the use of the church interior as a columbarium and for (funeral) celebration, 2/the transformation of the “island”, stressing the idea of “passage” and 3/the layering of the open landscape reactivating the well-spring and its spiritual origins. Based on the reform of the funeral rite after Vatican II, we propose a layered liturgy that can better suit the wide variety of funeral services in Flanders today, while at the same time respecting its Catholic roots. Rather than considering the reuse of the church a spiritual loss, we believe that it can offer the opportunity to reinforce and open up the traditional, symbolic and ritual meaning of the Christian liturgy to the larger community. As such, this case is an excellent example of how, in exploring new architectural and liturgical questions, religious sites can be transformed into contemporary places for spirituality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number407
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalReligions
Volume11
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Adaptive reuse
  • Church architecture
  • Funeral
  • Liturgy
  • Ritual

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