The frenzy of loft conversion in Toronto is really something to behold. Any building where you can accommodate a few floors of high-ceiling, open-concept condos is getting worked over by developers who can sell the end result for an outrageous sum for those who want to pretend they live on the set of Rent or whatever.

Since pretty much any building of any size can stand to be converted, recently I’ve seen a number of old church buildings undergoing the process. I’m not sure how I would feel living in an old church, I suppose every piece of land shifts uses over time, but still, of all the loft conversions, churches always strike me as the weirdest ones somehow, but I’m digressing. What if we got rid of every structure that we now call a church? Are these buildings an asset to the mainline denominations that tend to own them, or are they a burden? Yes some of them are gorgeous and for historical and aesthetic purposes (at the very least) deserve preservation, but for the practical purposes of a congregation, are these buildings needed?

I can see both sides of the issue, I mean the architectural genius that has gone into some of the world’s churches is stunning. As an example, Gothic cathedral is a superb space, there are others too. That being the case, I don’t really want to throw in with a purely pragmatic aesthetic that says we only build things to be practical. That way leads to Soviet-style apartment blocks. At the same time, what does it really matter if every church structure in Toronto was turned into an overpriced filing cabinet for hipsters?

What is a church building? A real estate asset? A burden? An icon? A beacon? A relic? An empty shell?