A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

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A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

Dutch studio Ruud Visser Architects have tranformed a 1930s church into a house in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

The architects have created a new volume within the existing building, allowing inhabitants to walk between the new structure and church walls.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

The open plan interior incorporates the wood-panelled vaulted ceiling and windows of the original building.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

A glass façade at the rear of the house looks out onto a river.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

Photographs are by René de Wit.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

See Dezeen's top ten: churches »

The following information is from the architects:


Our project A House in a Church is a beautiful example of adaptive reuse. The 1930's church had ended its career as a religious sanctuary and was being used as a garage for fixing and selling cars before a family came along and wanted to transform it.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

With the help of Ruud Visser Architects and Peter Boer, the church was adapted into a home fit for a family of four.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

The volume of the church is larger than most average family homes. In order to create the impression of a normal-sized home, the architects decided to place a house within the church rather than using the whole space for the home. So you can actually walk around the new house, while walking inside the church.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

The last part of the church, the transept, is held open. This was the place of the pulpit. Lightened by the original ‘leaded light’ windows.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

Situated on the back of the church, directly behind the transept, a smaller volume is placed. This volume is about 7 meters deep and stands with its back façade directly on the banks of the river De Rotte.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

Originally this volume was the church-choir. But in the existing situation this volume was in complete decline.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

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Ruud Visser Architects replaced the church-choir with a new modern volume, with exactly the same form as the original choir, but shorter. This new volume has floor-to-roof windows.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

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By this, the house in the church is opened now to the beautiful landscape. And the transept has become a buffer, between the public outside and the private house inside.

A House in a Church by Ruud Visser Architects

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  • QCKing

    much more successful than other houses ive seen plopped in things like, lets say, warehouses? The duality in play between sanctuary space and space for home is interesting. when is it important and why?

  • RODSTA

    The stunning looking shell is way beyond the officy interiors.

    • felix

      my first thought as well

  • james

    This house is a compositional nightmare.

    It's treading the fence between Japanese minimalist, Murcutt-modern, and rustic Scandinavian.

    The existing structure is insensitively responded to. It does not to accentuate it's history and makes more effort to conform it to something it's not.

    There are some contradicting formal ideas where straight edges meet curves.

    The refinement of materiality is all over the place. Sleek interior glass with tacky composite handrails with high tech louvers with exposed timber?

    This office need an editor.

    • ;-)

      Gosh, I bet you have a 3 piece suite that matches your crockery set and your socks.

    • joseph

      You make all these declarations as if they inviolable architectural rules but a cursory glance at what you're saying reveals most of it to be shallow nonsense. Great architects (not that I'm saying that these guys are great) mix so-called "styles" all the time. Look at Corb's Villa Jaoul or even Ronchamp or any number of works by Aaalto. And curves frequently HAVE TO MEET straight lines…take a look at Mendelsohn. As for your moan about Timber meeting "high tech" louvres… what the hell dose that mean?

      I read this website's comments section for informed and fair criticism not some pretentious and meaningless gobbledegook. My take on the conversion for what it's worth is that it an OK scheme and I do like the simplicity of the handrails which are in no way "tacky" … the only person I can imagine calling those handrails tacky is someone who hasn't a clue what "tackiness" actually is…

    • http://www.rvarchitectuur.nl Ruud

      Tnx for your comment. We understand your perspective on a friction between styles. However in this project there were so many variables that it wasn’t possible to control the whole thing as a ‘total design’. And since the church was not of a monumental status, it would be overdone to really put all effort in resurrecting the church in its original state. That’s why our approach was pure conceptually. The back façade – which you mention to be Japanese-like- actually can be seen like a sail in mind. Especially when the louvers are closed. Of course we would love to have projects on our hands in which we have a room to work out the design even more tightly. So if anyone has suggestions ;-) get in touch.

      • james

        I think you took an introspective space defined by its formal simplicity and materiality and sucked the soul out of it until it became a bland modern box. Nothing you did maintained or accentuated the religiosity of light and shadow.

        I'm sorry.

  • mario

    well, I disagree with james on his first sentence. Its not a nightmare. I think its the complete opposite for the people who live in it; a dream! But I do agree with james on the fact that sharp edges, especially on the front of the house, are a bit in conflict with the more curvy lines of the original building. But for the rest well done! Goed gedaan! Wat een ruimtes!

  • http://individual.cl/ æon

    The double roof looks nice.

  • http://www.winifredwikkeling.com/blog royal creme

    Though it does not send me screaming for the hills wanting to tear my hair out, I do agree with James somewhat; there could have been greater fluidity between old and new. The stark lines of the new structure give the space a temporary feel – as if it were a pop-up house, not one intended to be truly lived in…

  • http://jamesrmcnally.com James M

    I found myself a bit jarred at first by the compositional conflict. But after thinking about it for about 10 seconds, I'm realizing that I wouldn't want re-purposed church to be any other way.

    I wouldn't want my seating to be pews, or my table to be an altar. The incongruities – and boy are there some – give it feasibility.

    No one has mentioned it yet here, buy my main issue is with the exterior. Brick siding? Jesus….

  • donkey

    no photos of the church before work began??