11 New Uses for Old Churches

With so many churches around the world, it stands to reason that some will end up unused from time to time. But there's no reason to call in the demo crew. There are a lot of good ways to repurpose the House of God.

1. Restaurant & Brewery

The Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh pays special homage to the former occupant of its location with a beer called Pious Monk.

2. Children’s Indoor Playland

Image credit: City-Data

Kids were actually encouraged to run and scream in the church after the South Williamsport (PA) Methodist Church was converted into an indoor maze of playgrounds, slides, climbing walls and video games.

3. A Thoroughly Modern Home

It takes a good deal of remodeling to turn God’s home into your own, but it can be done. The web is packed with examples of beautiful residences, like this $2.3 million example in Denver, that are barely recognizable as former houses of worship - at least until you take notice of the steepled roof or the very church-like shape of the windows and doors.

4. Bookstore

Image credit: Design Top News

It’s probably a safe bet that you’ll be able to find at least a few copies of the Bible at the Bookstore Selexyz Dominicanen in the Netherlands.

5. Fraternity House

Image credit: Rensselaer/Daria Robbins

The Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, makes a convenient setting for all those hungover morning conversations with God promising to “never drink that much again.”

6. Entrepreneur Center

Image credit: TEDx Vasastan

Stockholm’s Entreprenörskyrkan, housed in a former Greek Orthodox Church, offers its own kind of heaven to small business startups: A fully furnished open-office environment that seeks "to have fun and play with ideas."

7. Laser Tag Arena

The Williams Grove amusement park in Harrisburg, PA, converted a charming, antiquated old church into a venue for modern sci-fi violence.

8. Alien Nativity Scene

One of the ideas behind artist Matt Henderson’s alien nativity scene at a former church in Portland was to help people recognize "the terrestrial nature of Christ.”

9. Atheist Headquarters

Image credit: Smyrna-Vinings Patch

The empty Collins Spring Primitive Baptist Church in Atlanta needed someone to save it from the vandals and the wrecking ball. In stepped the Atlanta Freethought Society - an organization of atheists that uses the building as part of its mission to “provide a community for non-theists in the Metro Atlanta area through educational, advocacy and social activities.”

10. Winery

If you ever make it to the South River Vineyard in Shalersville, OH, please refrain from asking them if their production process includes turning water into wine. I’m sure they already get that 100 times a day.

11. Skatepark

Image credit: MATTKINGTHESKATER/Panoramio

Skaterham is an indoor skatepark that has been operating for more than a decade out of an abandoned church in Surrey, England.

What did we miss? What other church conversions have you seen?

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Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Norway Opens Another Spectacular Roadside Bathroom
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen

Norway’s National Tourist Routes will change how you think about rest stops. As part of a decades-long program, the Norwegian government has been hiring architects and designers to create beautiful roadside lookouts, bathrooms, and other amenities for travelers along 18 scenic highways throughout the country. One of the latest of the projects unveiled, spotted by Dezeen, is a glitzy restroom located on the Arctic island of Andøya in northern Norway.

The facility, designed by the Oslo-based Morfeus Arkitekter, is located near a rock formation called Bukkekjerka, once used as a sacrificial site by the indigenous Sami people. The angular concrete and steel structure is designed to fit in with the jagged mountains that surround it.

The mirrored exterior wall of the bathroom serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it reflects the scenery around the building, helping it blend into the landscape. But it also has a hidden feature. It’s a one-way mirror, allowing those inside the restroom to have a private view out over the ocean or back into the mountains while they pee.

The newly landscaped rest area near the bathroom will serve as an event space in the future. The Bukkekjerka site is already home to an annual open-air church service, and with the new construction, the space will also be used for weddings and other events. Because this is the Arctic Circle, though, the restroom is only open in the late spring and summer, closing from October to May. Check it out in the photos below.

A bathroom nestled in a hilly landscape
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

The mirrored facade of a rest stop reflects concrete steps leading down a pathway.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A person stands outside the bathroom's reflective wall.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A wide view of a rest stop at the base of a coastal mountain
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Trine Kanter Zerwekh / Statens vegvesen

[h/t Dezeen]

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Snøhetta
Norway's New Hotel in the Arctic Circle Will Produce More Energy Than It Uses
Snøhetta
Snøhetta

A new hotel coming to Norway’s section of the Arctic Circle will be more than just a place to stay for a stunning fjord view. The Svart hotel, which is being billed as the world’s first "energy-positive" hotel, is designed to “set a new standard in sustainable travel,” according to Robb Report.

Built by a tourism company called Arctic Adventure Norway and designed by Snøhetta, an international architecture firm headquartered in Oslo, it’s one of the first buildings created according to the standards of Powerhouse, a coalition of firms (including Snøhetta) devoted to putting up buildings that will produce more power over the course of 60 years than they take to build, run, and eventually demolish. It will be located on a fjord at the base of Svartisen, one of the largest glaciers on Norway’s mainland and part of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park.

A hotel stretches out above the water of a fjord.
Snøhetta

The design of the hotel is geared toward making the facility as energy-efficient as possible. The architects mapped how the Sun shines through the mountains throughout the year to come up with the circular structure. When the Sun is high in the winter, the terraces outside the rooms provide shadows that reduce the need for air conditioning, while the windows are angled to catch the low winter Sun, keeping the building warm during cold Arctic winters. In total, it is expected to use 85 percent less energy than a traditional hotel.

The sun reflects off the roof of a hotel at the base of a glacier on a sunny day.
Snøhetta

Svart will also produce its own energy through rooftop solar panels, though it won’t have excess energy on hand year-round. Since it’s located in the Arctic Circle, the hotel will have an abundance of sunlight during the summer, at which point it will sell its excess energy to the local electricity grid. In the winter, when it’s too dark for solar energy production, the hotel will buy energy back from the grid. Over the course of the year, it will still produce more energy than it uses, and over time, it will eventually produce enough excess energy to offset the energy that was used to build the structure (including the creation of the building materials).

“Building in such a precious environment comes with some clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site,” Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen explains in the firm’s description of the design. “Building an energy-positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features” of the area.

Svart is set to open in 2021.

[h/t Robb Report]

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