Going to the chapel, gonna... cook some dinner.
January 23, 2008 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Turning a chapel into an apartment. The Dutch architectural firm ZECC has made a beautiful, modern apartment out of an abandoned chapel. There are more stunning photos and cross-sections in this PDF, though the text is in Dutch. Other stunning church renovations.
posted by desjardins (25 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's nice, but it looks a bit too much like the kind of place where Hannibal Lecter might carve up his victims.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:07 PM on January 23, 2008

Modern yes, beautiful no. That chandelier is seriously ugly and I think I'd go snowblind looking at that much white. The Mondrian stained glass window kicks ass, however.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:10 PM on January 23, 2008

Funny. I'm always trying to turn my apartment into a chapel.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:17 PM on January 23, 2008

That's a great idea, but, yeah. Did they have to make it ALL white? It looks like 2001: A Faith Odyssey in there.
posted by katillathehun at 2:20 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Visually interesting but not very homey.
posted by Doohickie at 2:31 PM on January 23, 2008

I think I liked the previous state better but I guess there aren't any spaces with a more pronounced personality, with stronger semantics than a chapel. Hard to override that into a more neutral living space.
The chapel is located in a hidden hofje off the most beautiful canal in Utrecht; the Nieuwegracht.
posted by jouke at 2:32 PM on January 23, 2008

I hope it comes with a Roomba.
posted by sidb at 2:36 PM on January 23, 2008

That's a lot of white, but I don't know how they could have gotten away from the churchiness otherwise and still keep the windows, which are so lovely.

Ani DiFranco and Scott Fisher (of Righteous Babe Records) bought and, with the help of the city of Buffalo NY, accomplished a $10 million renovation of a neighborhood church that otherwise would have been demolished, and turned it into an arts center for the city that includes a performing space. Pictures here, website here, and representative news article here. Cool project.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:41 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I can only imagine the tortured shrieks when their first guest drops a glass of Cabernet.
posted by Dizzy at 2:55 PM on January 23, 2008

Cool! It looks like they left the pipe-organ intact. I would so turn that thing into my alarm clock.

If for no other reason than to see any guests that I might have staying over come tearing out of their beds at 6am to the sounds of Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
posted by quin at 2:55 PM on January 23, 2008

I visited friends of friends who'd done something similar (though less spectacular) years ago. The altar remained partitioned off and they had agreed not to use that part of the building as part of the contract. I can't remember now if that was after a formal deconsecration or not. The former organ loft made a great sleeping platform but I bet the heating bills were a bastard.
posted by Abiezer at 3:00 PM on January 23, 2008

"i don't know who hates me more -- the atwells, or their dogs."

-jim williams
posted by CitizenD at 3:19 PM on January 23, 2008

This is my personal favorite renovated church. How many brewpubs brew their beer on an Altar?
posted by octothorpe at 3:39 PM on January 23, 2008

I'm trying to imagine how the place would look actually lived in...especially that awkward, awkward space where the beds are. If you had bed sheets tossed on them haphazardly, and someone's cast off clothes at their foot, they'd look like someone crashing in the middle of a clean white chapel, not someone living there having intentionally placed their bed there.
posted by Bugbread at 3:44 PM on January 23, 2008

Awesome! What a novel idea! [/snark]
posted by zekinskia at 3:45 PM on January 23, 2008

I followed one of the links to a project by the same firm that converted a water tower into a house. Which I thought was pretty cool.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 3:49 PM on January 23, 2008

I was going to buy a church to live in, but now I would rather turn one into a Mexican restaurant and call it Iglesia del Taco.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:51 PM on January 23, 2008

Huh. Apparently I'm now recycling my own comments.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:52 PM on January 23, 2008

Church conversions like this tend to sadden me. Whatever your feelings about organized religion, these buildings were once places where the community would gather and people would pray. They were places, in other words, with a community function. Now they are just places for the rich to practice interior design.

And I love me some interior design.
posted by jokeefe at 4:31 PM on January 23, 2008

WTF is up with the staircase? That is one of those OMFG so cool things on paper until you walk into one of the eye-level treads, fall off the side with no rail, or realize one of the treads has worked loose and there is *no* way to repair it.
posted by localroger at 4:31 PM on January 23, 2008

I love old building conversions and clicked on the first link expecting to love it. But, ugh! They renovated everything historic and interesting away and were left with a awkward shaped building of no particular charm.
posted by LarryC at 4:54 PM on January 23, 2008

And next week they'll be introducing the polar bear couple next week to the viewing pleasure of the locals.

I agree, the excessive use of white works to distract the viewer of the area's original purpose simply by being a blinding distraction. It feels superficial for some reason.
posted by Atreides at 5:07 PM on January 23, 2008

It's a tough assignment, no question, domesticating the desanctioned church, and it should come as no surprise that here at least it doesn't really work. The problem is one of remaining true to the building itself and the soaring classcial curved bones and the decidedly pre-modern look of the thing. Here, the architect either doesn't have the imagination or the know how to accomodate himself to the space he's been dealt, or he simply doesn't care.

So we get what looks like a quick trip down to Home Depot or Lowes for a bunch of off the shelf cabinetry, four by eight plywood, ultra moderno fixtures, and a whole lot of too white paint, throw it up in an empty space, any empty space will do, and hey, presto! charge twice what you paid. No reference to the gothic windows, to the arches, not even a spiral staircase to give it some interest, just those tedious and frankly dangerous black blocks without risers. Even the sky lights, which might have been interesting (though difficult to maintain over a period of time, as the owners will find out) are off the rack square jobs. All in all, it might as well be an old meat packing plant.

Again, not an easy assignment by any means, and no doubt there was a budget that precluded the kind of exotic work I would have liked to have seen. Or perhaps the client even asked for something like this- a minority taste if the commentary so far is anything to go by. But it does seem a pity that they could not do better.

In general, it's the problem is the domestication of wide open spaces. Houses demand intimacy. Public spaces less so, which is why, among other reasons, the brewery and the bookstore work that much better. And why this place looks more like an upscale modern art gallery than a home.

So much for the rant. Believe it or not, I actually like the idea of a successful church conversion, and would love to see examples of other attempts, with luck more successful than this. Mefites? Mefites?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:16 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

That looks incredibly arid; I'm sure there are people who could live in a space like that and be comfortable, but I'm not one of them. IndigoJones is right on about the total mismatch between the renovation and the church's architectural history. Presumably, you'd have to dye your pets white before you let them roam around, lest the fur interrupt the North Pole decor. (And God forbid that you have children. Can you imagine all of the potential disasters?)

Also, no convenient place for the bookcases.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:25 PM on January 23, 2008

I always wanted to live in a classic deconsecrated church but this is a bit of a disaster.

And white. Sometimes its worth it, and your eyes are opened. Here it evokes the same reaction as when I walk into a splendid old craftsman house and find popcorn ceilings, hollow-core doors, wall-to-wall shag and what's left of any original trim painted. It's like an itch for paint scrapers, floor sanders, vertical grain fir by the truckload and a lot of woodworking tools.
posted by maxwelton at 9:33 PM on January 23, 2008

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