From prophet to profit: An investigation into the adaptive reuse of religious buildings in Adelaide, South Australia

01st December 2011

Louise Holt

M. Cultural Heritage Management, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, December 2010

Churches, with their architectural form, spires, towers, location and size, have long been a dominant force in the Australian landscape. This is particularly true of Adelaide, a place that, since the late nineteenth century, has been described as the ‘City of Churches’. Churches contribute to creating local identity and are often integral to the distinctive atmosphere of a place. These significant buildings represent not only particular aspects of religious heritage, but also wider constructions of social value.

But what becomes of a church when it is no longer used as a church? What happens to the landscape around it; the building’s relationship to the landscape; and to the construction of a community’s cultural heritage? How does the value of the building change with a change in use? Do we (or should we) care more about Christian church conversions than other iconic buildings with social value, such as pubs, stately homes and industrial sites?

This thesis explores the relationship between place and space with reference to the adaptive reuse of churches in Adelaide, South Australia. It examines how the significance of a building and its landmark status changes when its use shifts from a sacred to a secular place. As such, this research develops a nuanced understanding of the use and reuse of Catholic and non-Conformist religious structures in Adelaide, including North Adelaide, and the southwestern suburbs of Adelaide. The research comprises questionnaire surveys (n=160), in-depth interviews (n=7) and exterior and interior architectural descriptions (n=5). These investigations address the connections between church structures and social values and, in particular, churches that have been commercially adapted from buildings that welcome the community and provide service without return, to ones that become consumption-driven and profit-motivated.

Louise Holt
From prophet to profit: An investigation into the adaptive reuse of religious buildings in Adelaide, South Australia
December 2011
73
86-87
Thesis Abstracts
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