Woonkerk XL Utrecht BY ZECC


image ©ZECC


Utrecht, Netherlands


The ancient Catholic St. Jakobuskerk has been transformed into a spacious house. The church sits discreetly on a street façade at Bemuurde Weerd in the center of Utrecht. Here the Oudegracht slowly transforms into Vecht. Since 1991 there are no more services in the church and in the period up to 2007 the church was used as a showroom for antique furniture. The church has also been rented as a meeting room or used for small concerts.
For these functions, in the 1990s a large intermediate floor was created, which broke the spaciousness of the church. The presence of this intermediate plan was an important starting point for design. The intermediate floor has been radically adapted to improve or restore the spatial qualities of the church. With the removal of parts of the intermediate floor, interesting lines of vision are highlighted and the light can penetrate better on the ground floor. The traffic space winds through the volume and connects the open front with the back of the church where the altar stood. Sometimes the experience of the monumental church is dominant and sometimes dominates the new “appearance” of the residential church. Furthermore, the church is completely intact on the outside and the daylight penetrates through the original windows.
In the long run it is conceivable that the church can be converted for public purposes such as a library, a bookshop, a museum or even another church! The “church” has been touched or changed as little as possible. The existing wooden floor, stained glass windows and old doors have been preserved and restored locally. The new white volume is “detached” from the church walls, columns and vaults. The volume of tight gestuukte is made of steel, wood and plate material. The glass surfaces in the volume reflect historical elements, creating a fusion of old and new.