A neo-gothic monastery in a walled garden on the banks of the River Scheldt. The last residents have left and it’s time the building was given a new life. Then it turns out that its neo-gothic architecture is impossible to combine with the modern requirements of comfort and safety associated with its future use as a residential care centre. So the question is whether it is possible to remove and preserve at the same time, or to begin again without forgetting what went before. Surely the history of the place is the primary condition for a ‘place with history’. The aim is to let old people live in a historical setting in a new building.
The garden wall was left as it was and the new building is as solitary as the old. The unusual orientation of the building, inherited from the castle that once occupied the site, is also retained. One layer of history over another, and again we are building a monastery. The masonry shows attention to detail. The cloisters and gardens offer an abundance of experience in between the private accommodation and the communal space. People do not always live alone, nor always in a group.
The floors are in stone or wood. The walls are in brick, which on the inside are treated with cement paint and on the outside are baked from local clay and laid in a traditional style with pronounced patterns. Each home has a view of the River Scheldt and has its own entrance hall, living room, kitchen and bathroom. The bed is placed discretely in a recess. When you go out of the front door there is immediately something to see. The corridors have doors down one side and windows along the other. You can sit there and have a chat, or just stroll, perhaps even lose one’s way. Anyone can go anywhere, even in the cafeteria.