Preserving Historic Catholic Churches: The Case for Adaptive Reuse in Future Conservation

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This thesis discusses the heritage approach of adaptive reuse as a way to preserve and protect abandoned churches in Limburg. For this, a discussion is had on the social and cultural dynamic and history of Limburg. This is a province in the Netherlands with a deep historical connection to the Catholic religion. This paper explores the province’s formation under the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1867, and the continuous influence of Catholicism as a unifying force in the region. In recent decades, however, the region has witnessed a great decline in Catholic engagement. This has led to the closure of many historic churches. Adaptive reuse has emerged as a strategy to adapt and repurpose these now abandoned historically important spaces to preserve their architectural, cultural, and social significance, while also meeting the new needs of the community in which these churches are located. This research explores how adaptive reuse can contribute to the social environment and the culture in these communities, offering a practical solution for the preservation of historic church buildings. Through a case study of the reuse of the Dominican Church in Maastricht as a bookshop, this paper shows the use of adaptive reuse as a heritage approach to revitalize historic churches and create a social connection between the inhabitants of the province. Ultimately, adaptive reuse serves as a bridge between past traditions and present realities. Making sure that Limburg’s religious and cultural heritage remains vital and relevant in today’s day and age.