(Re)creating Values

Recycling cloisters and their afterlife via contemporary architectural interventions

Text: Bianka Varga

Whilst transforming into a world of Christianity, the fate of religious orders and their institutions in mediaeval Europe ran parallel with the history of the church after the foundations of the very first cloisters. The changes of the social-political positions of churches almost naturally involved the changes of the status of the orders that were the most active both in society and health care which in turn also affected the conditions of their real estates. Some of the fraternities have been upkeeping their activities since then. Throughout the centuries, their ever extending building stock has been enriched with new cloisters even today. Some of the orders have buildings that are still homes to their communities, but their changing conditions and needs involve architectural issues as well. Besides cloisters, they also have to maintain a large number of abandoned and decaying structures. Contemporary architecture, however, has the faculties to assist them to upkeep the buildings concerned amd preserve their values. The essay below surveys examples of European history associated with cloisters from the past 10-20 years. As the future existence of these houses typically requires the adaptation of new functions, it is a priority to examine their viability and sustainability.