Herrenhausen Symposium digital: Reusing Churches. New Perspectives in a European Comparison

Herrenhausen Palace
Researchers and Professionals

The symposium, originally planned as a face-to-face event, will take place as a purely digital event due to Corona. The date will remain the same: February 15-17, 2021. Experts from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Great Britain will discuss the topic of church reuse for the first time in a European comparison and develop new perspectives from it.

Die Kirche St. Josef in Luzern ist heute ein Veranstaltungszentrum (Der MaiHof), in dem Konzerte, Theater, Vorträge, Familienfeste, Tanzveranstaltungen, Bankette, Tennisturniere und auch kirchliche Anlässe stattfinden (Foto: Priska Ketterer)
The Church of St. Joseph in Lucerne today is an event center (The MaiHof), in which concerts, theater, lectures, family celebrations, dance events, banquets, tennis competitions and also church events take place (Photo: Priska Ketterer)

Church buildings are important testimonies of cultural heritage that shape the image of cities and villages. As a result of current social changes, many church buildings in Europe can no longer be operated and maintained by church institutions. They are sold, rented, converted. The topic is complex and has so far been discussed mainly at local and regional level. For the first time, the Herrenhausen Symposium brings together experts from different European countries with the aim of exchanging experiences, expanding the field of vision and developing new perspectives in a European comparison.

The target audience are persons responsible in church, monument preservation and politics, academics, members of educational institutions and all those interested in the topic. The symposium addresses an expanded public, convinced that churches are public buildings that ultimately belong to the public. An important aspect of the symposium is the involvement of young scientists and young professionals as well as society stakeholders or volunteers that are active in this field.

Herrenhausen Symposium digital
Reusing Churches. New Perspectives in a European Comparison
February 15 to 17, 2021


The program of the conference as well as a short introduction to the sections can be found in the right column under Downloads. The symposium will be attended by 40 speakers, panelists and conference observers. In addition, 20 grantees, young researchers selected by the Volkswagen Foundation to participate, will present their research projects. Those actively involved in the meeting come from 15 countries:  Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. At the center of the symposium are seven sections that discuss the topic from different perspectives. In a panel discussion, reused churches from Hanover will be presented. Two exhibitions can be visited on the conference platform, there are discussion rooms, a library and more. Integrated into the conference is the public Herrenhausen Talk, which discusses the topic in relation to Germany.

Session I: The Perspective of Culture Studies, Ritual Studies and Theology
Session II: The Architectural and Urban Development Perspective
Session III: The Monument Protection Perspective
Session IV: The Perspective of Process Planning
Session V: The Perspective of Real Estate Business
Session VI: The Perspective of the Public
Session VII: The Perspective of the Rural Areas


You can still register at short notice, please send an email to Ms. Rüßmann at ruessmann@volkswagenstiftung.de. Registered participants will receive the login information for the conference platform a few days before the start of the symposium.

There are no participation fees, but registration is required. The link to register is on the top right of this page. The registered participants will receive a login to the conference platform a few days before the start of the symposium, which allows access to all program items.


In addition to the program of the conference and the brief introductions to the sections, you will also find a brochure in the right column under “Downloads”. It presents five already converted churches from Hanover and the Hanover region, which would have been visited as part of two excursions in the symposium originally planned as a face-to-face event. Now they will be presented in a panel event. A second brochure can be found here. It documents two workshops that students of architecture and theology have organized on a conversion project for the Dietrich Bonhoeffer church center in Roderbruch.


The symposium funded by the Volkswagen Foundation is organized by Prof. Kerstin Gothe, architect and urban planner DASL / SRL, architecture faculty at KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), Paul Post, theologian, Department of Culture Studies, School of Humanities and Digital Sciences, Tilburg University, and Prof. Dr. Johannes Stückelberger, art historian, Faculty of Theology, University of Bern.