Swiss Religious Heritage Day


Content and Goal

The database Modern Church Building records around a thousand churches, chapels and monasteries, that were built in Switzerland between 1950 and today, and wants to provide a basis for the analysis with this fascinating, comparatively little explored period. It was created in connection with the 3rd Swiss Religious Heritage Day, which dealt with modern church buildings in Switzerland. 

You are monument conservator and want to know which churches a specific architect has built? You are a parson in an Ecumenical Community Center and would like to know where else there are such Centers in Switzerland? Are you interested in Church Building and would like to know if churches are still being built in the 21st Century? You will find the answers to these and other questions in this database. 

Many of the modern church buildings have now reached an age, where the first major renovations are waiting to be dealt with, and questions of protection are raised. It is to be observed that in connection with the topic of conversions, modern churches are often standing in the focus. In view of these and other problems is it advisable to pay more attention to modern church building. The database provides an overview.


Recorded and unrecorded buildings

The database mainly records churches and chapels of the three national churches (Roman Catholic, Evangelic-Reformed, Christian Catholic), additionally a few monasteries, educational institutions. Not included are other church buildings such as parish houses. Completeness was sought for the church buildings of the three national churches, although probably not achieved. Certainly not complete is the database at the chapels. If you discover any gaps, please point this out to us. The database covers the period from 1950 to today.

Not included are buildings of non-Christian religions such as synagogues, mosques and temples. Only a few chapels of other Christian denominations (Methodist Church, New Apostolic, Greek Orthodox, etc.) are recorded.The church services of these denominations, which have been in existence since 1950, are also in the hundreds. Their collection would have blown up the scope of the research and many of these places are poorly documented and barely visible in public space.

Also sporadically recorded are rooms for church services in institutions (hospitals, nursing home), chapels or funeral halls in cemeteries and multi-religious prayer rooms.


Determination of objects and data

As a basis for the determination of the objects and data, the research team initially used the five volumes of the «Kunstführer durch die Schweiz» edited by the Gesellschaft für Schweizerische Kunstgeschichte. Further sources were the publications of the Swiss St. Lukasgesellschaft, the special volumes for church building of the architecture magazine «Werk», as well as recent publications on church building and modern architecture in Switzerland. The publications drawn up and evaluated by the research team are marked with a * in the literature list (to be found in the literature category. Further objects were found through research on the Internet.

The adjustment of the database proved to be challenging, as the searches generated numerous duplicates that then had to be deleted. There were doublets, because the churches were sometimes referred in the various publications differently, sometimes listed under different place names. 


Recorded data

For each object (church, chapel, monastery) provides the database the following data: place, name, year of construction, denomination, type of building, address, architect, coordinates and two links.

The place names are written in the respective national language. Where there is a second name in brackets after the place name, the first designates the place where the church stands, the second the political community to which the village belongs today. For example, today Brigerbad belongs to the political community Brig-Glis, Brunnen SZ to Ingenbohl.

The names of the objects are based on the current designations. Names of Roman Catholic churches are shortened to the name of the saint or saint to whom the church is consecrated. For example, instead of «Roman-Catholic Church St. Michael» short «St. Michael».

Where there is only one number in the year of construction, this designates the year of the inauguration. Two numbers mark the time span from start to completion. Depending on, whether you understand the beginning of the planning or the start of construction, the numbers in the literature may vary.

Under denomination it is recorded which of the three national churches or which community the building belongs to. «Ecumenical» stands for objects that are operated by at least two denominations, «multireligious» in places that are open to all religions. At hospital chapels stands as denomination «Spital», at cemetery chapels «cemetery». This is because these chapels are usually owned by the political community or the hospital.

The database distinguishes between church, community center, chapel, monastery, seminary and education house. «Church» refers to a place that serves exclusively or primarily the celebration of worship. Chapels are smaller sacral rooms that also serve individual contemplations. The term «Community Center» stands for those buildings, that also have a hall, rooms for teaching and youth work, possibly also include the apartments of the parish family. This type of building was very popular in the second half of the 20th century.

«Community Center» is a generic term chosen by us for the many names that these places have received: Ecclesiastical Center, Church Center, Parish Center. It can be assumed that the assignments made in the database to the building types Church and Community Center are partly incorrect, for which we apologize. The reason: The name of a place does not always tell what type of building it is. Where a place is called « Parish Center St. Wendelin» the allocation is clear. It is more difficult for a place such as the Tituskirche in Basel, whose name does not indicate that it is also a Community Center. Only images, which we did not had in disposal at the beginning for the construction of the database, will help.

A few Reformed Community Centers bear the name «Parish House», which may be confusing, as we said we did not cover parish houses. In these cases (for example, Kirchgemeindehaus Winkeln in St. Gallen) however, there are buildings that also have a worship room, often also a bell tower and therefore also belong to the building type Community Center.

The category address, architect and coordinates need not be commented. However, we should point out the two active links. The link «Google Maps» opens in your browser the map of Google Maps, on which the object is marked. The integration of the object in this map provides you with additional options such as route planning, street view, possibly also photo material. Via the link «Swisstopo» you will find the object marked on the maps of Swisstopo.


Query Options

With a database of nearly a thousand records, you depend on being able to orientate yourself in it. The database Modern Church Building in Switzerland offers six query options:

1. Place in alphabetical order: You are specifically looking for a church in a certain place. The list not only gives you the name of the location, but also the name of the church, so you can easily orient yourself in cities with several churches.

2. Place by Canton: Here you find out more about modern church building in a specific region. This query option provides you with the data sorted by Cantons, within the Cantons alphabetically.

3. Year of Construction: You want to see all churches that were built, for example, between 1950 and 1960. The list is ordered chronologically according to year of construction. It only becomes visible when you open the individual data record. 

4. Denomination & Type of Construction: This query option orders the database to denomination (roman-catholic, evangelic-reformed, ecumenical) and additionally within the denomination to building types. The category "Others" summarizes chapels of other christian denominations, multireligious prayer rooms and chapels in hospitals and cemeteries, which are only occasionally and vicariously recorded.

5. Architect: You want to know which churches a specific architect has built. The churches are displayed under the name of the architect in the alphabetical order of the places (not in chronological order). There are several entries for architects, that have worked in different teams. An example of this is Hanns A. Brütsch. Architect teams appear only in the name of the first-mentioned architect.

6. Map: You orient yourself with the help of a map? Here you will find all objects of the database tonal differentiated by denomination. Via the menu, you can display the individual denominations separately. If you click on an object, a window opens with all associated data. Reversed, you can use the list of places that appear under the denominations to display a location on the map. The Zoom feature of Google Maps allows you to get an overview as well as to determine the exact location of a church.


Image and Copyrights

In addition to the data, you will also find images on the pages of the individual objects. For time reasons, we focused, with a few exceptions, on churches and community centers and we restricted ourselves to overall views from the outside and inside. Detail shots were omitted.

Most of the pictures are taken from the Internet. For each image we have captured the link from which we downloaded it. With this link you can immediately reconstruct, where the picture came from. The link list can be found as a PDF-File at the end of this introductory text. The number in the left column of the list refers to the image in the database. The number of an image can be determined by right-clicking on the image and choosing "save image as". Then a window opens in which the image number appears in the field "File name".

Most of the images selected by us are freely accessible. Where required, we have placed the name of the photographer and additional information under the image. For images whose usage rights are restricted, we have tried to contact the copyright holders. If we have missed something, we apologize and ask for contact (address at the end). We would like to point out, that the Database of Modern Church Building in Switzerland serves scientific interests.


What the database cannot offer

The goal of the database is to collect, as many churches and community centers as possible, as well as nearly all chapels and monasteries that have been built in Switzerland since 1950. Since this goal was already a huge task, we had to renounce from including additional information as well as references to the individual objects in the database. We could not afford this work for a bundle of 1000 objects

Anyone who wants to deal with this or that building in-depth, should be referred to the special literature (guides, publications on the architects), to the inventories of the cantonal and local departments for historic preservation and to the websites of the parishes. Further research on the individual objects of this database must be done decentrally. We do not exclude the possibility of further expanding the existing database, provided that we have the resources and capacities at our disposal.


About Us

The database is a result of a research project with master students of Art History at the University of Basel. The following have worked on the research project: Otto Bonnen, Leonie Fricker, Tamino Gafner, Rosam Keller, Ayako Kyodo, Lilija Monkevic, Sophia Nava, Lena Pflüger, Patricia Striebel, Nora Weber, Lara Willibald.



If you discover errors in the database, miss an object or have a suggestion or question, please take contact with Johannes Stückelberger