zecc architecten: residential church XL
sep 30, 2011
zecc architecten: residential church XL

‘residential church XL’ by zecc architecten, utrecht, netherlands
images © frank hanswijk

dutch practice zecc architecten has completed ‘residential church XL’, an abandoned church located in utrecht, netherlands
which has been repurposed and converted into a single family residence. hundreds of empty churches are scattered throughout
the netherlands and since 1970 more than 1000 churches have been closed by communities with over 1/3 of those structures
being demolished. re-use is the only way to prevent long-lasting vacancy or destruction of the historical layer within the city.
the purpose of the re-use of the st-jakobuskerk was to revalue the dignified monument with little interventions as possible.
the facade stands inconspicuously along a street at the bemuurde beerd in utrecht city. religious services have no occurred at
this location for twenty years and was even used as an antique furniture showroom. the church also served as meeting place
and venue for small concerts and dictated the implementation of a large mezzanine floor. this floor was an important factor in
the designing process and has been substantially modified to recover and enlarge the interior spatial qualities. partial removal
of the floor generated interesting sight lines allowing light to permeate the ground floor. underneath the manipulated floor
reside the bedrooms, study and a bathroom. ambient daylight enters through vacant spaces in the floor and openings in walls.

view of church from canal

at the rear of the dwelling, the functional section of the kitchen is adjacent to a dining table created from old pews. to strengthen
the relationship with the backyard and to provide additional daylight, three new fenestrations were added. the sleek transparent
facades contrast the original stained glass windows allowing colored light to stream through the preserved exterior. the existing
wooden floor and doors were retained and repaired where necessary. the new white floor sculpture is pulled away from the original walls,
columns and arches. the sleek stucco volume is constructed from steel, wood and sheet metal. closed parapets guide sightlines and
encompass the living areas. transparent surfaces within the volume constantly offer another insight of fragments in the interior while
simultaneously reflecting historical elements, fusing the old and new.


entry lobby


dining area

view from first level

upper level living room


site plan

floor plan / level 0

floor plan / level 1



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions’ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication.

comments policy
login with designboom
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

churches (62 articles)

product library