Unique Church Conversion in The Netherlands
The God’s Loftstory project was completed by the Hengelo based studio Leijh, Kappelhof, Seckel, van den Dobbelsteen Architecten. The project involved the conversion of a historical church into a unique contemporary loft living space, located in Haarlo, a village in the province of Gelderland, The Netherlands.
God’s Loftstory by Leijh, Kappelhof, Seckel, van den Dobbelsteen:
“The former Dutch Reformed Evangelism Building in Haarlo has been transformed into a unique loft. The starting point for the design were the retained (mostly with a need for restoration) qualities of the 1928 dating monument, the façade, the bell tower with clock, the volume, the iconic location on the outskirts of the village and nice details like the wooden roof construction, the old panel doors and arch windows with stained glass. This project demonstrates that a transformation of a church with limited resources is possible, when using a smart design and an efficient plan. The concept was; strip, isolate and furnish. The result represents the motto of the owners: “Cherish your inner child; remain pure, playing, exploring and a little bit naughty!”
It was a conscious choice, not to fill the volume of 1100 m3 completely with as many rooms as possible, but to minimize the demands, in order to retain the spaciousness of the building. The only architectural additions are the mezzanine for the relaxation room ( couch, bed and bath ) and the multifunctional “Stairway to have fun” ( stairs, room divider, closet, build-in-kitchen, acoustic element and exhibition wall ).The materials that were used are pure, sober, functional and budgetary; concrete on the floor, the original wooden floorboards off the church as cladding for the “Stairway to have fun”, stainless steel kitchen elements, a hard glass partition to retain openness, white stucco ( for making the space light inside ) and strategically chosen red accents.
This project shows great passion, humour, respect, love and creativity. This is being reflected in the, especially for this project realized, elements like the swing “swinging sister”, the “KROONluchter” (inspired by the original organ), the “gate of heaven” flanked by a wall of guardian angels, the “stairway to have fun”, the “holy shit” on the toilet, birdhouses with lamp for strange birds that have seen the light and the wooden “lost sheep” in the garden.
The modern garden has large plastered planters, made by left-over-bricks. There is a herb garden, a vegetable garden, a flower garden and an orchard; a contemporary nod to the old monastery gardens. The outside shed with a porch is a 40ft container, integrated into the wooden fence and equipped with a green roof. By deepening the garden, a private garden is created yet still a view at the church is remained intact.”