Church Conversion by Zecc Architects

Residential Church XL by Zecc Architects

Zecc Architects, as I’ve mentioned before, are one of my very favourite architect practices. I especially love the church conversions that they have worked on. The Dutch practice prides itself on creating high-quality architecture that is both functional and aesthetic. Their mantra is “Clear and Sparkling”, which means that they aim to design clear building with a sparkling look. As far as I’m concerned their projects definitely shine!

This particular project is a conversion of the old St Jakobus Catholic church in Utrecht into a spacious residential dwelling. The church was taken out of service in 1991 and from that time until 2007 it was used primarily to showcase antique furniture or as a meeting place for musical concerts.

Residential Church XL by Zecc Architects

In the 1990’s a mezzanine floor was installed for the purpose of the musical concerts that were held in the church. This floor was an important factor in the designing process. The mezzanine was substantially modified to recover and enlarge the spatial qualities within the church. With the partial removal of the floor, interesting sight lines were created that allowed more light to penetrate through to the ground floor.

Residential Church XL by Zecc Architects

Residential Church XL by Zecc Architects

The sleek stucco volume was constructed from steel, wood & sheet material and the new white floor sculpture was kept free from the church walls, columns and arches. This means that the modern residential volume is completely detached from the old church building and can be regarded as a temporary ‘resident’ of the historical church. If at any time in the future the residence was to be reconverted back into a building for public use, such as a library, bookstore, museum or even a church, this residential volume could easily be removed restoring the spacious layout of the original building.

Residential Church XL by Zecc Architects

In the conversion, Zecc Architects aimed to retain as many of the church’s original features as possible. The original wooden floor, stained glass windows and old doors were maintained and repaired where necessary.

Residential Church XL by Zecc Architects

At the rear of the building is a contemporary free-standing white kitchen island.The whole kitchen has a very minimalist feel to it as it lacks any wall cupboards or additional storage and any appliances are kept completely out of sight.

Residential Church XL by Zecc Architects

The bedrooms, a study room and a bathroom are located beneath the manipulated mezzanine floor. Indirect daylight enters through vacant spaces in the floor and openings in walls. The vacant spaces are a kind of inner patios, which also divide the living space on the first floor into different places. The ugly mezzanine floor from the 1990s was transformed from a functional and spatial sculpture into a monument.

Residential Church XL by Zecc Architects

The dining area has been positioned in the foyer of the church and old pews have been reused for the dining table. To strengthen the relationship with the backyard and to provide additional daylight in the dining area, three new windows have been created. The sleek glass-facades are distinguished from the other windows in the facades and are sometimes placed oblique in the facade to point out the distinction with the existing windows.

Residential Church XL by Zecc Architects

All images by photographer Frank Hanswijk

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    • HI, thanks for stopping by! Isn’t it just fantastic? I always thought living in a converted church would be spooky but this conversion isn’t spooky at all. They managed to retain lots of original features whilst giving it afresh modern look and feel.
      I’ll be checking out your blog regularly too as I’m planning my wedding at the moment!

  • I love this project, have seen it a few times online and always think how much I would love to redesign it!! For me they haven’t got it right in that huge space for a home – it looks great but I am not sure if it will work as a home. Just my humble opinion of course ;)

    • Hi Kia,
      That’s really interesting. What in particular do you think they could have done differently to make it work better as a home? I’d be really interested to know. My love of modern, minimal, contemporary church conversions may have blinded me to the flaws.

      • The ground floor area is wonderful and I think will work perfectly but on the first floor they have struggled to zone areas, the use of plants on the left hand side as you come up the stairs illustrates that they have so much space that they didn’t know what to do with it all (If this was to be a garden area why is there no seating in order to be able to enjoy it fully). Also there seems to be what looks like a very comfortable area to site and read (with the big lamp) but no books within sight…I could be wrong it could be that the thicker wall opposite is in fact a book case.

        Also with the drum area, having a husband who is musically talented from experience, you would want a music area that allows more of a space where you could jam. This for me is definitely not it.

        The space is amazing but these are just a few of the problems I see with it from a design perspective…sorry if I’m being a little harsh but I love creating spaces for clients that are really easy to use and live in.