The design team SUMoffice & Van Noten recently won the Open Call 21.14 in Moorsel, Belgium. The project consists of the conversion and extension of the presbytery into a meeting centre for youth and other associations and the redesign of the presbytery garden into a publicly accessible garden. More images and project description after the break.
As part of the extensive redevelopment of the public spaces in Moorsel’s centre the iconic and historic presbytery and its walled garden will be opened up for the public. Opening up the garden creates a unique opportunity to add a green domain to the palette of predominantly paved public spaces in the village centre. The renovation of the presbytery offers a new perspective for the almost obsolete monument. The program is diverse: it consists of spaces for several local associations, a multifunctional hall, as well as a new accommodation for the youth association KLJ. A considerable part of the new program will be housed in a new building that is to be constructed in the presbytery garden.
The project deals with two elemental questions: how to open up a by typology closed entity and how to insert new architecture into a monumental ensemble? The acknowledgment of the spatial quality of the typological unity of the presbytery and the walled garden forms the fundamental starting point of the proposal. New architecture creates a dialogue with both garden and presbytery without damaging the typological unity. This is achieved by shifting the southwestern border of the garden and filling the space behind it with part of the new program.
The atmosphere of the garden transits from open near the front to more densely wooded further to the rear of the garden. This spatial transition informs the distribution of the program behind the shifted border: The public parts, including the multifunctional hall, are situated inside and near the presbytery, the more private accommodation of the KLJ is situated in the back of the garden and has a separate entrance.
Halfway down the garden the building volume gives way to the trees, resulting in a ‘tree chamber’. This space mediates between the public and more private parts of the program. On both sides of the strip public forecourts function as links between the outside and the inside of the walled garden.
The design team consists of the architectural offices SUMoffice from Rotterdam (NL) and Van Noten from Antwerp (BE). The offices share the ambition to generate an architecture with a significant sensibility towards context and regularly team up for national and international projects and competitions. In April, the design team was selected by the Flemish Government’s Architect out of more than 90 subscribers to make a design proposal for Moorsel. During this process the team was reinforced by landscape architect Erik Dhont and restoration and conservation office, Het Ornament.