old and new
Multifunctional Community School Huis van de Heuvel, Breda
What could be more challenging than renovating and extending a Romanesque Revival church in Breda that was placed on the list of post-war monuments in 2007, by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Mr Ronald Plasterk. Our task was to transform this exceptional church into the social cultural centre of the quarter. To be able to give the building this function, atelier PRO has added new build to the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help - in the vernacular ‘Het Ledikant’ (the bedstead). This balance between old and new facilitates the interaction between the various functions and groups of users, which this multifunctional accommodation will be hosting.
The location of the Multifunctional Community School Huis van de Heuvel is interesting due to the urban and scenic context. The building is situated in the post-war urban expansion in Breda called ‘De Heuvel’, created by the architect Granpré Molière – a follower of the Delft School or Traditionalist School. Here, the blocks of houses in the clear orthogonal structure show slight angular rotations, which gives the quarter a rural and spontaneous atmosphere. This organic structure merges into the central Brink (the village green) with lush pastures and high plane trees, which functions as the green lung of the quarter. The church holds an important position here, as the building forms the hinge between the green Brink and the central square of the quarter. This position greatly enhances the monumental qualities of the church.
Together, the existing block of buildings and the extension form one ensemble, in which new and old complement each other. The balance between those two is based on the mass construction and the use of materials. The existing garden is converted/transformed into a new winter garden with a courtyard which serves as a connecting link between the buildings. The adjoining foyer in the church and the auditorium in the new build optimally stimulate any possible interaction between the various users, thanks to visibility lines and views.
The existing buildings accommodate an extensive socio-cultural centre, a playgroup and an out-of-school care centre. The new build houses a catholic and public primary school, a gymnastics hall, a community worker, a homecare centre and a childcare centre.
Atelier PRO has designed a building that comments in a contemporary way on the historicizing architecture of the Delft School, in which the use of material and plasticity play a prevailing role. All the interventions in the church’s interior are reversible: they are carried out in such a way that the church can be restored to its original state. The annexes of the church, the sacristy and the presbytery with its small hall, have been explicitly integrated in the design.