Divine inspiration

by PHOEBE LIU on Jun 17, 2011 in Architecture , Interiors
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A sensitive conversion of a historic church in Utrecht blends tradition and modernity

Located in Utrecht, St Jakobuskerk was originally deconsecrated in 1991 and used until 2007 as an antique furniture showroom, a meeting place or to stage small-scale concerts. A large mezzanine floor had been installed in the 1990s, and played an important factor in the process or redesigning the space for residential purposes.

Under the leadership of project team Marnix van der Meer, Bart Kellerhuis, René de Korte and Steven Nobel from Zecc Architects, the mezzanine has been substantially modified to recover and enlarge the spatial qualities of the church, via partial removal of the floor. As a result, interesting sight lines have been uncovered and light now penetrates to the ground floor where bedrooms, a study room and a bathroom are located. Indirect daylight also enters through vacant spaces in the floor and openings in walls.

As little as possible of the original church was modified. The existing wooden floor, stained glass windows and old doors were maintained and repaired where necessary. The new white floor ‘sculpture’ has deliberately been designed to skirt around walls, columns and arches. Closed parapets guide sightlines and embrace the living areas; glass surfaces in the volume reflect historical elements, creating a fusion of old and new.

Read the full story in the July 2011 issue of Perspective magazine!