Holy home

A dutch firm named Zecc has a history of converting unusual spaces to homes – they have converted churches and schools into apartments, each time carefully respecting and enhancing the character of the original building.

The decline in church attendance over the last several decades has meant that countless churches across the Netherlands have lost their original function. They are crumbling, are demolished, or are put to new uses. Their specific architectural features often fall by the wayside in this process. Not every church can be turned into a municipal exhibition hall, and if, for example, a residential use is chosen, the original qualities of space are usually lost.

This chapel was part of a large housing complex of the Friars of Utrecht, which at its height, around the mid-20th century, housed 217 residents. The remaining 13 elderly friars, however, moved to a nursing home in 2005, and the complex was divided up and converted into about 40 apartments.

The design team chose to keep many of the original features like the high gothic stained glass windows and the original choir organ. To allow more light to enter the space, they cut a Mondrian-inspired glass window into the front of the house facing the street perhaps paying homage to Rietveld’s nearby infamous Schroder House. The entire living area has been whitewashed, while the private spaces above were painted dark. In conclusion this place might be controversial, but it looks very modern and stylish.

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