dmvA converts former belgian military sheds into contemporary youth center

dmvA converts former belgian military sheds into contemporary youth center

Domain De Hoge Rielen revived as contemporary youth center

 

Architecture studio dmvA transforms a former Cold War military landscape into a youth multifunctional accommodation center in Kasterlee, Belgium. In the middle of Domain De Hoge Rielen, the buildings have been transformed since the 1980s, adopting a lower-profile design compared to the more prominent Western structures. Within this context, the renovation includes Theater and Building 39, as understated volumes reflecting the existing sheds. On the eastern side, the military landscape remains most authentic, with sheds retaining their original shells. A restorative approach to Buildings 27 and 30 preserves their historical integrity. Additionally, in collaboration with OMGEVING the architects create Fire Place B, a proximity area designed for campfires and group activities. The material palette reflects the site’s military heritage featuring textures like fiber cement corrugated sheets, and prefabricated concrete panels. 

dmvA converts former belgian military sheds into contemporary youth center
all images by Stijn Bollaert

 

 

dmvA renovates former belgian military storage sheds & camps

 

Created in the 1960s the site features storage sheds and camps built by the British Army. Today, Domain De Hoge Rielen is a place where multifunctional activities and innovative nature educational initiatives for young people are organized. Key buildings highlight the domain’s gradient, transitioning from expressive architecture in the west to an authentic military landscape in the east. The western side includes prominent structures like the reception building (Erik Wieërs, 2002) and Hostel Wadi (Secchi-Viganó, 2013). The renovations by the Belgian-based architects align with Studio Secchi & Viganó’s 2004 master plan, which divides the domain into natural, military, and educational layers.  

dmvA converts former belgian military sheds into contemporary youth center
sculptural extensions align with the 1980s chimney design

 

 

Building 39 by dmvA replaces a deteriorated pavilion with a new group accommodation for 20 sleepers. Drawing inspiration from military architecture, the architects combine contemporary techniques with practical needs. Its facade features prefabricated concrete panels, complemented by wooden exterior joineries. Inside, four bedrooms flank a central living space. Ample windows on the north and south sides enhance connection with nature. Sleeping areas are paired, each equipped with four bunk beds and adjacent accessible sanitary facilities.

dmvA converts former belgian military sheds into contemporary youth center
the shed that now hosts the Theater interacts with the surroundings and the main road

 

 

choosing a selective restoration approach

 

The Theater building offers a space for events, showcasing Hoge Rielen’s history through diverse masonry styles. The former shed is insulated internally, with wall construction comprising the original masonry, thermal insulation, and acoustic concrete blocks for improved indoor acoustics. The materials create a dual atmosphere: a neutral interior contrasted with a warm, red-brick exterior. Sculptural extensions align with the 1980s chimney design along the main road. Openings in the south façade and the fireplace reinforce this connection. 

 

Building 27, a well-preserved military shed serves as the adventure park’s base. Renovated with a restoration approach, it now includes a grandstand, storage space, and sanitation facilities. dmvA also designed a reversible climbing element connecting the shed to the adventure park, made of yellow steel plates. Building 30, preserved in its original form, acts as a shelter for the adjacent camping area, with minimal interventions and new emergency doors. Finally, Fire Place B, created with OMGEVING landscape architects, transforms the campfire site into a fixed ring with 180 seats, accessible and practical for group activities.

dmvA converts former belgian military sheds into contemporary youth center
Building 39 replaces a deteriorated pavilion with a new group accommodation space

dmvA converts former belgian military sheds into contemporary youth center
Fire Place B transforms the campfire site into a fixed ring with 180 seats

dmvA converts former belgian military sheds into contemporary youth center
the former military shed acts as a shelter for the adjacent camping area

dmva-belgian-military-sheds-contemporary-youth-center-designboom-1800-03

the material palette reflects the site’s military heritage

dmvA converts former belgian military sheds into contemporary youth center
the Belgian-based architects combine contemporary techniques with practical needs

dmvA converts former belgian military sheds into contemporary youth center
a curtain rail has been installed on all sides of the multipurpose hall

designboom005

two yellow sliding gates were provided on the south facade of Building 27

 

 

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the history of the Hoge Rielen is visible through various types of masonry
the history of the Hoge Rielen is visible through various types of masonry
the Theater features a neutral interior contrasted with a warm, red-brick exterior
the Theater features a neutral interior contrasted with a warm, red-brick exterior
Building 27, a well-preserved military shed, serves as the adventure park’s base
Building 27, a well-preserved military shed, serves as the adventure park’s base
Building 30 is preserved in its original form
Building 30 is preserved in its original form
Building 27 now includes a grandstand, storage space, and sanitation facilities
Building 27 now includes a grandstand, storage space, and sanitation facilities
Domain De Hoge Rielen is a place where educational initiatives for young people are organized
Domain De Hoge Rielen is a place where educational initiatives for young people are organized

project info:

 

name: Domain Hoge Rielen 
location: Kasterlee, Belgium
architect: dmvA | @dmva_architects
photographer: Stijn Bollaert | @stijn_bollaert

 

 

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.

 

edited by: thomai tsimpou | designboom

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