In order to investigate the phenomenon of church redundancy in its real-life context, the project will evolve around case studies. I intend to make a longlist of 20 post-war parish churches of which three to four will be investigated in-depth through a research by design approach. I am aware that the triage from over #300 post-war parish churches in Flanders to the longlist of #20 cases should be transparent and traceable; that is why I am taking quite some time to argue the hierarchy and the nature of the criteria.
Starting from existing databases, I first selected all parish churches and filtered out monastery churches and chapels, which is obvious given the scope of the research and the urgency. I decided to limit the cases geographically to the diocese of Antwerp because of its wide variety in urban context. On the one hand we find the Campine area, in which during post-war period small villages expanded significantly and agricultural land was taken for allotments and ribbons between cities silted up. On the other hand, we find the dens fabric of the XXth century belt around Antwerp. Domus Dei, the church development department of the diocese was very active around Antwerp and in the Campine area; making that a lot of protagonists of post-war architecture such as Marc Dessauvage, Paul Felix and René van Steenbergen have left their mark on the area.
In total, there have been built 87 parish churches after World War II in diocese of Antwerp, of which 52 after the Second Vatican Council in 1962. In order to gain insight in that particular building stock it is crucial that the longlist is diverse and that different types of urban fabric and different churches with different scales, styles and typologies are represent. It is still a significant step towards the longlist of 20, but site visits and further desktop research will definitely boost the selection-process. I’ll update you in the upcoming weeks.