Zecc residence church utrecht view from loft

Quaint, cute, and unassuming the outside of this old house of worship shows its age in weathered wear. Seeking to preserve this piece of history, however, its owners chose to transform the interior, creating a contemporary home within classic walls.

Zecc residence church utrecht outside

Like other cool church conversions from Zecc (photos by Frank Hanswijk), this small-church renovation in Utrecht features a series of levels within the existing large space.

Zecc residence church utrecht stairs
Zecc residence church utrecht plans

While the mezzanine may look intrusive, it actually represents a partial reversion from the building’s last design iteration, and (as the plans above show) is less complete than it might appear from looking at the pictures.

Zecc residence church utrecht minimalist kitchen

For a time after church services stopped (some decades ago, now), it served as a two-story showroom for antique furniture. By pealing back part of this second level, more openness was again achieved.

Beneath the open upper floor lie the privacy-oriented spaces of the residence, including bathrooms, bedrooms and a personal study that are tucked away and internally-divided. None of these newly-created rooms, however, would be difficult to remove should anyone seek to fully restore the space at some point.

Vaulted ceilings and old surfaces were repainted white, wooden pews and hardwood floors were preserved, and most new elements are easily marked as having been recently introduced. Where possible, original doors and stained glass were preserved, and other decorative elements were saved as well.

Zecc residence church utrecht living area

“The old Catholic St.-Jakobus Church is transformed into a spacious house. The church stands inconspicuously in a street facade at the Bemuurde Weerd in Utrecht city. Since 1991 there were no longer divine services in the church and until 2007 the church was used as a showroom for antique furniture. Also, the church was let out as meeting-place or used for small concerts. For these functions, in the ‘90 there a large mezzanine floor was added. This floor was an important factor in the design process. The mezzanine floor has been substantially modified to recover and enlarge de spatial qualities in the church. More private spaces (bedrooms, a study room and a bathroom) are on the ground floor. “

Zecc residence church utrecht dining area

“The modern residential volume is completely detached from the old church building and can be regarded as a temporary ‘resident’ of the historical church. The circulation space meanders through the volume and connects the open front with the rear of the church where the altar once stood. To strengthen the relationship with the backyard and to provide additional daylight at the dining area, three new glass fronts are created. Furthermore, the church on the outside is fully preserved and daylight and natural light comes in through the original stained-glass windows. “

“The exceptional quality of this project is that the church has been transformed into one dwelling. With this new situation, eventually, it is imaginable that the church can be converted for public purposes such as a library, bookstore, museum or even a church again! The original church construction is hardly modified. The existing wooden floor, stained glass windows and old doors are maintained and repaired where necessary. The new white floor sculpture is kept free from the church walls, columns and arches. The sleek stucco volume is constructed from steel, wood & sheet material. Glass surfaces in the volume constantly offer another insight of fragments in the church. Moreover, they reflect historical elements, which creates a fusion of old and new.”