a2o architecten completes convent conversion in belgium a2o architecten completes convent conversion in belgium
may 26, 2014

a2o architecten completes convent conversion in belgium

a2o architecten completes convent conversion in belgium

 

 

 

on june 6th, 2004, the colettine poor clares vacated the convent of the order of st clare, a former walled building, situated on the guffenslaan in hasselt, belgium. a2o architecten takes the enclosed edifice and its inner courtyards to turn an austere, secluded dwelling into a bright open health care facility with a rest home and service flats that provide an oasis of relaxation and tranquility, right in the city center.a2o architecten convent conversion hasselt belgium designboom
an inner courtyard of the project

 

 

 

the original structure is absent from the street scene. its buildings are hidden behind a 4-metre-high wall. the secured premises are divided into quadrangles. subsequently, the edifices were raised around courtyards. the southern part contains the enclosed convent complex, while the northern part consists of the chapel, and is open to visitors. the design is characterised by a high degree of austerity, and a limited number of building materials. its construction employs simple building techniques: no concrete lintels or floors, but spans made of elliptical arches, or floors made of boards on wooden beams, decorated with motifs referring to tapestries. everything is submerged in an atmosphere of modesty, simplicity, even a certain degree of poverty.a2o architecten convent conversion hasselt belgium designboom
one of the common areas, adjacent to an inner courtyard

 

 

 

in the search for a new use for the convent, the ‘health care’ theme was a deliberate choice. it provides a secular extension of the ‘contemplative care’ that the sisters always represented. today, the complex is a residential and health care facility, with service flats and public meeting areas, such as the redesigned chapel – the renewed ‘living room’ of the center.a2o architecten convent conversion hasselt belgium designboom
exterior view of the chapel and the renovated facades

 

 

 

the entire complex is encapsulated in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. the new design is based on the importance of the walled gardens, and thus retains the spatial structure of the location. continuing from the former convent gallery, users pass through the newly built parts. the circumambulation is clear and easily recognizable. the walk is extended equally logically in the gardens of the courtyards. natural light accesses the corridors indirectly through skylights and decorative openwork in the walls.a2o architecten convent conversion hasselt belgium designboom
view from the street at the kunstlaan

 

 

 

this new circulation path creates two new gardens, around which care rooms have been situated. the concept ensures that all rooms face the green space. the immediate and fully open relationship between the patient quarters and the outdoors, results in a special experience. there is an abundance of daylight inside. the courtyard plantations are pivotal to the experience, with a design that aims for living with the seasons: colour and scent, shadow and light. sensory experiences, mild stimulation for the elderly living here.

 

 

 
an art project in the chapel on site

 

 

 
the entirely new part within the convent walls has a wooden facade. without creating a sharp contrast with the existing buildings, the intervention is nevertheless recognisable. old and new have been linked in an appropriate way.

 


view from above at the work in progress

 

 

 

the premises have been extended. new buildings, leaning against the outer convent wall, were added. this volume contains the service flats, which are stacked as individual cells, a reference to those in the former nuns quarters. the new building is u-shaped, its location creating another courtyard garden. raised above street level, it marks the natural boundary with the public area, heightening the sense of privacy.

 

drawings

 


situation of the site in hasselt, belgium

 

 

 

a suitable location for every health care function was found in the existing convent complex. the boundaries between public, semi-public and private derive logically from the existing situation and create large interstitial spaces that can be used for meetings within a protective environment. design and materials are in keeping with the existing formal idiom of the previous partii, and retain the atmosphere of security and silence exemplified by the colettine poor clares.

 


the plan of the existing convent

 


plan of the conversion of the convent into a health care facility


(above): section through the existing convent
(under): section through the new buildings

 


(left): diagram of the convent
(right): the new concept of the conversion

 

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

Save

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    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.

    PRODUCT LIBRARY

    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news