St. Martin's Cloister in Leuven - now a hotel. Source: tripadvisor

Life Inside the Cloister or Understanding Monastic Architecture

A cloister is a covered walk surrounding the inner courtyard of a monastery or convent. But it is also a synonym of the wider institutions, in which they were found – the abbeys, the friaries, the priories, the monasteries, and the convents. New book tells the story of how the cloister became more than an element of architecture

Life Inside the Cloister. Understanding Monastic Architecture: Tradition, Reformation, Adaptive Reuse
By Thomas Coomans
Leuven University Press 2018


Christian monasteries and convents, built throughout Europe for the best part of 1,500 years, are now at a crossroads. This study attempts to understand the sacred architecture of monasteries as a process of the tangible and symbolic organisation of space and time for religious communities. Despite the weight of seemingly immutable monastic tradition, architecture has contributed to developing specific religious identities and played a fundamental part in the reformation of different forms of religious life according to the changing needs of society. The cloister is the focal point of this book because it is both architecture, a physically built reality, and a metaphor for the religious life that takes place within it. Life Inside the Cloister also addresses the afterlife and heritagisation of monastic architecture in secularised Western society.

Table of Contents:

Cover-Life inside the CloisterIntroduction. Understanding Monastic Architecture

Origins. Organising Sacred Space and Time

1. The Cell
2. The Rule
3. The Community
4. The Church
5. The Cloister

Building Types. Identities and Reformations

6. The Abbey
7. The Charterhouse
8. The Castle
9. The Friary
10. The Beguinage
11. The Hôtel-Dieu
12. The College
13. The Palace
14. The House

Characters. Embodying the Sacred

15. Place and Stability
16. Enclosure and Gender
17. Liturgy and Identity
18. Death and Memory
19. Scale and Growth
20. Style

Afterlife. Adaptive Reuse and Heritagisation

21. Destruction and Ruins
22. Manors, Farms and Factories
23. Residential Use
24. Barracks, Arsenals, Prisons and Courthouses
25. University Colleges and Lyceums
26. The Sacredness of Culture

Conclusion. Tradition, Heritage and the Spirit of the Place

Index of Places
Index of Names




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