A Europe without churches—hardly imaginable, but no longer completely absurd. In rural areas, as well as in the urban fabric, church buildings are still common; yet the membership numbers of Christian denominations are shrinking steadily. The Central German state of Thuringia represents an example of this development: of its 2,000 church buildings, 500 stand vacant. However, churches are not just places of worship: they are prototypes of public buildings, thus collective action is required to maintain church buildings as cultural assets and sites of community. On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the project “StadtLand:Kirche—Querdenker in Thuringia 2017”—a joint initiative of the IBA Thuringia and the Evangelical Church in Central Germany—has collected 500 ideas for dealing with church vacancies.
The publication documents the project and presents the new use proposals as well as the first realization results. Supplementary essays discuss the theological, political, and architectural dimensions. The result is a pool of ideas that encourages the consideration of our (building) cultural heritage and calls for new ways to preserve it.