Andrew Mowatt

Architecture with Urban Planning RIBA Part 2 MArch (Hons)

As more historic church buildings become disused, how can architectural interventions ensure their long-term survival and communal use?


Andrew Mowatt

The essential nature of church buildings in the urban environment is easily overlooked in modern society; they constitute societal support positions, important navigational landmarks, and the characterisation of historically Christian settlements. 

In the context of declining Christianity, these former keystones face abandonment, destructive conversions, or decay. Their large halls, usually protected status, and age present significant challenges to conversion.

The accelerating removal of these buildings from the public realm has the potential to devalue society and cities, both now and in the future. However, little is being done to fully maintain or restore these urban artifacts, the equally important symbolic artifacts within, or the communal role they play.

This design project was used to investigate the problems currently faced by churches and potential solutions. Gilfillan Memorial Church in Dundee’s City Centre (built in 1889), through surrounding development, reduced parish numbers, and existing building layout has lost its connection to the public realm, becoming an ‘invisible church’.

The objective of my thesis is to identify methods to fully reintegrate these threatened churches back into the city and community using retrofitted community-based uses; while also retaining the elements that make church buildings important.

1:50 Model of the theoretical proposal for Gilfillan Memorial Church

Picture of 1:50 sectional model made of MDF and blue acrylic with model people.

1:15 Axonometric Section

An axonometric section displaying the workshops proposed in the design, created using Sketchup, AutoCAD, and Photoshop.

Hand Drawings of 'Artifacts' within Gilfillan Memorial Church

A collection of hand drawings of the symbolic architectural elements in Gilfillan Memorial Church.