Church attendance in the Netherlands has been steadily declining over the last few decades while energy and maintenance costs are rising. Many church organizations are thinning their inventory in order to better be able to take care of the churches which are left. Because of this, in the coming ten years, an average of two church buildings are expected to lose their function each week in the Netherlands. This is a total of almost 1400 churches (RCE, 2011). Many of these buildings are heritage sites or have emotional value to the parishioners or the people living in the neighbourhood. Therefore, finding a new function for them is an important and enormous task, partly because of the sheer number of churches looking for new functions and partly because the spatial characteristics and emotional value places certain limits on which new functions can be fit into the building.
The Protestant Community of the Hague (Protestantse Gemeenschap ‘s Gravenhage or PGG) is no exception and, realizing what a difficult decision this can be, hired an outside commission in 2012 to take inventory of the current stock and make recommendations as to which buildings would close. In the end, a total of 8 of the 25 churches owned or run by the PGG will be closing their doors. In order to prevent these churches from being demolished, a new, sustainable function has to be found. Many churches are re-used by other congregations, but often a new, non-religious function has to be found. The research contained in this booklet documents each of these churches, as well as looking into the challenges brought about by the vacancy and how the churches can be reused, both in terms of program and strategy.