10 Innovative uses for old churches

BY Anna Walker

1st Jan 2015 Travel

10 Innovative uses for old churches
In Britain there are over 8,000 churches no longer in use as places of worship. Here are our favourite new uses for old churches from around the world. When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a…

1. Skatepark, Spain

It has been described as the Sistine Chapel of skateboarding. Originally built in 1912, the church of Santa Barbara in Spain had been abandoned for decades when Fernández Rey came across it. 
He decided to turn the chapel into an homage to one of his passions; skateboarding. Along with a team of artists, including Madrid street artist Okuda San Miguel, he transformed the once holy space into a skater's paradise. 
Speaking to The Guardian, Rey said, “It was pretty much in ruins when we started the project. The walls were stained, paint was peeling and there was dust everywhere…[Now] it is a really beautiful place to spend some time.”

2. Underground music, Norwich 

Image via Bedford Crypt
It's impossible to set foot in a Norwich taxi without hearing the same old story; Norwich can boast a pub for every day of the year and a church for every Sunday. In medieval times in fact, the city had 600 public houses and 57 churches.
The city’s former places of worship now serve a multitude of purposes, from the Norwich Arts Centre to the Puppet Theatre plus a music academy, dance studio, Stone Mason’s Guild and more.
One such use is the Bedford Crypt, an underground music venue held in a real 15th-century crypt. One of over 40 crypts in Norwich, the unique acoustics of the setting make it a truly standout place to catch local and upcoming bands. 

3. Bookshop, Holland

This 13th-century Gothic church became a beautiful bookstore in 2005, a place where the community can come together to enjoy a cup of coffee and a good read.
The Selexyz Dominicanen had several uses since falling into disuse, including a warehouse, and perhaps the world's most glamourous bike shed. 

4. South River Vineyard, Ohio

Image via Pinterest
The South River Vineyard in Geneva, Ohio is uniquely housed in a former church. The vineyard's owner, Gene Sigel, first noticed the then abandoned building while in his car waiting for some traffic lights to change. 
Intrigued, he stopped and asked permission to photograph the property. He was amazed when the owner went one further and said he could have the building, for the touble of dismantling it. A week later, he got to work on plans to move the building piece by piece to his own property in Geneva. 
The winery still retains the original pews, interior door, wainscoting, flooring, and some of the stained glass windows. 

5. Martin's Patershof Hotel, Belgium 

Image via Martin's Hotel
Located in Belgium's artistic hub, Mechelen, this stunning sixteenth century Renaissance church is now the home of Martin's Patershof Hotel. 
With an array of spectacular rooms in the stained glass vestry, or the original monk's chambers, these modern rooms also have private jacuzzis and guests can dine in the centre of the traditional church building. 

6. Kindergarten, Germany

Before and after the makeover. Images via E Architect 
St Sebastian's Church, located in Münster, north Germany, could easily have disappeared when it was deconsecrated.
Instead, it was given new life by a team of architects with the vision to transform the space into a local kindergarten. 
The roof of the church is now an all-weather playground while the inside offers not only a fantastic play space, but several rooms for use by the local community. 

7. National Maritime Museum of Ireland

Image via Wiki
Ireland's National Maritime Museum is appropriately housed in the Old Mariners Church at Dún Laoghaire. 
One of few custom built churches for the worship of sailors remaining intact in the world today, the Old Mariners Church building is this museum's most priceless artefact in itself. 

8. Pitcher and Piano bar, Nottingham

This striking grade II listed building is a spectacular setting for this bar and eatery. 
The High Pavement Chapel was originally refurbished as the Nottingham Lace Museum but the financial failure of this enterprise soon saw it reappropriated as a bustling bar. 

9. Repton Park swimming pool

Image via Pinterest 
This renovated church is the spectacular location for Repton Park indoor swimming pool.
Set in the grounds of the supposedly haunted Claybury Asylum, with its high arches and stained glass, this dramatic pool offers swimmers a calming and restorative experience. 

10. St. John the Baptist Brewpub, Pennsylvania

"And on the eighth day God created beer." So proclaims the website for this Pittsburgh brewpub.
Shut up since its closure in 1993, this restaurant and brewery restored the church to its former glory in 1996. 
Brewpubs are increasingly popular in Pittsburgh, and the brewpub is bringing the community back together, with the locals voicing an appetite for locally brewed beer.