Waanders In de Broeren by BK Architecten

The stairs gradually climb around an 11m bookcase.

ZWOLLE – Waanders In de Broeren is BK Architecten’s recently completed renovation of Broerenkerk – a fifteenth-century church – into a shop and café in Zwolle, The Netherlands.

BK Architecten’s goal was to maintain the architectural characteristics of the medieval church in the renovation. ‘We wanted all the additions to be sober and modest, respectful to the church. Therefore, the three added floors are placed in the side wing between the original pillars, outside the central strip. The construction of these floors isn't connected to the church, so in the future the added floors can be removed without demolishing the building.’

By keeping the central axis free, BK Architecten ensured the grand scale of the church remained recognisable, even after contemporary interventions were added. Placing large, vertical features – the church organ and a tall stained-glass window – on either side of the long central axis accentuates the length and height of the building.

A processional staircase leading to the main store area mirrors the design of the church organ and creates a symmetry in deference to the existing design.

Stained-glass panels are restricted to one section of the church. A colourful installation – designed by Norwegian artist Kjell Nupen – combines a sacred window treatment with modern design, paying homage to both old and new influences on the church. Typographical signs are similarly treated – an old style font is used with up-to-date materials, scale relationships and placement.

Short, wooden panels extend over booths in the cafeteria, which creates a false dropped ceiling over seated patrons which might give them the feeling of sitting in a smaller, more intimate space than the high-ceilinged church on its own could provide.

Materials for the additions were kept ‘pure and sober’ and were restricted to white, black and wooden features. White elements match the plaster applied to the original church ceilings from 1640 and help to reflect daylight into the interior of the building. Black, white and wooden elements serve as a background for the original ornament of the church and for the items on sale which are accentuated by their muted backdrop.

Photos courtesy of Joop van Putten


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