Database Church Conversions
The database records churches, chapels and monasteries in Switzerland that have been converted over the last 25 years. Not recorded are parish houses, centers, and other church properties, even if these are also affected by the problem today. Not included are churches, chapels and monasteries, that were profaned before 1990 (including in the wake of the Reformation or the French Revolution).The focus lies on current examples and solutions that have been found for their conversion.
The database provides an insight into the topic, it also offers a certain overview, but it is by no means complete. Completeness is not possible because new objects are constantly added and the processes of conversion often take a very long time from the first idea to the realization and it can only become public at a later date.
The extent to which the database can be updated at regular intervals depends on the available resources in the future. We are always greatful to receive references to new conversions of churches, monasteries and chapels, whether they have already been realized or are being planned.
The database records the following data for each object: place, name, year of construction, denomination, type of building, address, coordinates, architect, type of conversion, year of conversion, information on conversion. When some of these data are missing, they were not accessible to us. In almost half of the objects there is more information on the building and conversion, in some even images.
The database offers three query options
1. Place: in alphabetical order and by canton.
2. Type of conversion: Church use, mixed use, secular use, sale, demolition, open
3. Denomination: Roman-Catholic, Evangelic-Reformed, Christ-Catholic, other christian communities.
Type of Conversion
The database distinguishes six types of conversions, which are explained here.
1. Church Use
We speak of church use when the building is being used for new church functions, for example, by renting it to another church community or undergoing a conversion that allows it to accommodate offices and other spaces of the community. In both cases, no owner change takes place. In this category all those churches should be listed, which are still used by the owner, but also to other church communities, especially migrant communities. Such simultaneous uses have a long tradition and are given new meaning today, also in view of many migrant communities. They are already so common, that it is impossible to record them. But at least, they are called here as a form of extended church use.
2. Mixed Use
Mixed use is, where the owner continues to use the building for their church services, but also provides it for non-church use. The fact, that churches are rented for non-church events, such as concerts, graduation celebrations, is nothing special and oes not give reason to talk about conversion. Therefore, only churches and monasteries are included in this category, who either have non-church permanent terants for parts of their building or in whose operationg concept regular temporary leases are provided to non-church users.
3. Secular Use
We speak of secular use, where the owner no longer uses a church or a monastery by itself, but leases it permanently to a non-church user.
Where a change of ownership takes place, we talk about sales. The use of the objects can be church or profane after the sale. In other examples, the conversion is still open. Also the demolition is an option after the sale. In other examples, the conversion is still open. Also the demolition is an option after the sale.
The category leaves open whether the demolition was completed by the owner or only after the sale of the building. It also leaves open, what is being rebuilt on the plot. Whether the old owner builds a new church thereafter, an overbuilding with an integrated chapel or apartment houses, has to be differentiated from case to case.
This category is assigned to those objects where it is still unclear whether they are demolished, sold or how they should be reused. Objects whose conversion is also still unclear, but which are already sold, are in the category Sale.
The database was set up by Johannes Stückelberger and Ann-Kathrin Seyffer in 2017. Work on the texts under "Further information" has been done by: Nathalie Annen, Fabian Felder, Sabina Galeazzi, Béatrice Gauvain and Vera Scartazzini. Since the Swiss Religious Heritage Day in 2017, Johannes Stückelberger, Sara Egger and Sina von Aesch have updated information and included further objects. Johannes Stückelberger gladly accepts notes on conversions, that are not yet recorded in the database.