Developing relevant knowledge on built religious heritage and exploring new conservation and management strategies for it.
Making a significant contribution to the study of cultural landscapes.
Building Beliefs: Religious Places in North America
By analysing built environments and their design, the Canada Research Chair in Built Religious Heritage endeavours to gain an understanding of religious places (sites and buildings) in past and present societies.
Citizens, public officials and agencies who control regulatory systems and the architects and defenders of our heritage make aesthetic and policy choices and arrive at various interpretations on the basis of specific definitions of built religious heritage. The value placed on heritage will influence the decision whether or not to conserve features of heritage buildings and sites; it is also a determining factor in the type of action that can be taken, which ranges from destruction to restoration. The creation and alteration (including demolition) of natural and built environments have political and economic consequences.
The goals of the Chair are to understand the personal and collective experiences connected with religious environments and to gather information to promote enlightened decision making on interpretation and conservation.
Analysis of the relationships between religion and the built environment in its initial and subsequent forms can reveal the stratification and fragmentation of phenomena such as the asymmetry of genders and sexual roles, privileges based on socio-economic class, racial or ethnic discrimination, and other forms of exercise of power. Individuals’ interpretations of religious places are constantly changing and being redefined. Accordingly, the theme of religion and built heritage calls for a combination of projects involving fundamental research, action-research and creation-research.
What people do with built heritage has both physical and social ramifications. In this context, virtual demonstrations and the creation of three-dimensional models of the built environment may help decision makers to understand the cumulative effect of individual and collective decisions on past and present cultural landscapes, as well as evaluate the impact of proposed projects.
The Chair’s research program develops new strategies to revitalize heritage buildings and propose improvements to conservation policy. Its work in the field of historic preservation advances Quebec and Canadian cultural resources management and built heritage practice.
Tania Martin, Canada Research Chair in Built Religious Heritage, is Associate professor at Université Laval School of Architecture, Québec, Canada.
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