Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
In the last decades an international debate, still present and unsolved, started about the new religious architectures and the recovering of the existing ones. The new liturgical code coming from the 2nd Vatican Council (1958) deeply modifies the relationship between the human and the divine aspects during the religious ceremonies. The faithful, ones passive spectators of a ceremony celebrated by others for them, become now the main actors, and so both the space of the ceremony and the functions performed deeply change. The new churches represent this renovated religious concept through a new shape and new inner spatial distributions, emotionally and physically more involving, while the rigid inner spaces of present churches, built following the old liturgical code, need to be modified to meet the new requirements. At a scientific international level, a debate still misses regarding another subject both important and actual by a religious, historical, social and architectonic point of view: the restoration of redundant churches, no more used for religious ceremonies. It has never been codified how to restore these buildings, their possible destination of use, the sustainable structural, functional and spatial interventions for a particular and meaningful architecture as the religious one is. This paper deals with a research carried on at the Laboratory of Building Design of the University of Trento called “Renaissance Opportunity for Redundant Churches” which objective is to formulate guidelines that can be useful both by architects and by the public administrators to understand how to properly use church buildings and to adapt them especially to housing uses achieving sustainable interventions, so that the historical, architectonic and formal values of the building are preserved and the religious meaning and representation are not distorted. One meaningful example in the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy) is shown and discussed.
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