Architectural detail in Zoroastrian Centre, Rayners Lane


reusing cinemas as places of worship in the diaspora.

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Funded by Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in collaboration with Historic England.

Led by Kate Jordan and Julie Marsh at the University of Westminster. 

Julie Marsh is an artist and researcher for CREAM (Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media), a world-leading centre and pioneer in practice-based, critical, theoretical, and historical research in the broad areas of art, creative and interdisciplinary practice.

Kate Jordan is an architectural historian and co-convener of The Architectural Humanities Research Group which focuses on the historical and cultural processes and practices of architecture, addressing contemporary critical questions about architecture and its contexts. 

Site-Integrity is a working methodology a particular but original mode of site-specific practice that potentiates a dynamic exchange between site, artist, device, and community.

This project uses pioneering cross-disciplinary methods to examine the adaptive reuse of cinemas in the UK as places of worship. In doing so, the research will capture a vital snapshot of faith and diaspora in the contemporary urban landscape, which may be used to inform future heritage practices.
The project will combine scholarly research with the innovative art-based methodology ‘Site-integrity’ (developed by the project’s co-leader, Julie Marsh), a co-creative methodology that will enable the team to work in close collaboration with communities to produce a series of site-specific film installations. These outputs will be designed to reflect the architectural significance of the case studies as former cinemas.

Made in collaboration with each faith community, this methodology enables a sensitive exploration of the dynamics of users, transforming the traditional anthropological ‘subject of research’ into the producer of its own voice. In each of the site visits and case studies, the research will explore encounters between heritage bodies, local communities and faith groups, examining intersections of the sacred and secular; assimilation and autonomy.

By uncovering the role of faith communities in shaping and negotiating their own spaces the project will demonstrate that adaptive reuse of heritage buildings by diaspora communities is a practice that is culturally enriching, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.

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