Holy Sacrament Church in Berchem is making way for new construction

Holy Sacrament Church in Berchem is making way for new construction
Holy Sacrament Church in Berchem is making way for new construction

The existing Parish Church of the Blessed Sacrament was built in 1960, when the Church and the surrounding Groenenhoek district were in full bloom. Although it does not score highly in terms of architectural and art history, the cultural-historical value of the community function that the church fulfilled is enormous. That is why the Church Council and the City of Antwerp decided to redevelop the site.

Mixed public program

Architectural firms POLYGOON and ROOILIJN worked together with Cluster Landscape to bring together a mixed public program that can reactivate the special social role of the place. The project will include a daycare center, a liturgical space and a food distribution area, as well as 16 social housing units.

Sense of community

The competition design is based on the broader context with the intention of generating openness. On the one hand, an interaction between the various functions and parts can provide great added value for the sense of community and on the other hand, the designers argue for an effortless connection with the public space.

Extensive green zone

Within the social objective of this repurposing project and because of the striking lack of greenery in the neighborhood, the architects choose to create as much open space as possible for the building and make it publicly accessible. Implementing an extensive green zone within this densely populated suburban environment seems to be a suitable gesture towards the neighborhood. At the rear, outdoor spaces are provided exclusively for the liturgical part, the daycare center and a single-family home.


The main entrances to the food distribution area, the liturgical area and the daycare center are located on the square. The ground-floor plinth containing the daycare center is openly designed to enhance the liveliness and interaction between inside and outside. This entire plinth is constructed in a different masonry bond than that of the apartments above it in order to distinguish between public/collective and private. All apartments are of the sun-drenched type or have living areas with two orientations. The associated terraces are located at the quiet rear and oriented to the south. The terraces of the apartments on the square side face the green area.

Liturgical space as vertical volume

The liturgical space is connected to the houses, but otherwise it develops autonomously with sloping roofs and a prominent vertical volume, which provides a signaling function to the square and refers to the original bell tower in terms of proportions. The Church Council part will be given a more expressive elaboration that expresses the specificity of this public program. In the junction with the apartment building, an awning marks the entrance to the prayer room and the area for food distribution. The entrance gate and the vertical glass concrete windows in this entrance zone are recovered from the church building that is to be demolished.

Recovery materials

From a historical and ecological perspective, the new Church Council building will make maximum use of materials recovered from the demolition of the old church building. In this way, the continuity of history is maintained. The recycled materials are supplemented with timeless bio-ecological materials, such as visible wood structures and clay plaster for the walls. In this way, the areas of the Church Council, and the prayer room in particular, acquire a historical sensitivity linked to a soothing, warm and homely atmosphere with a pleasant and healthy indoor climate.

The article is in Dutch


Tags: Holy Sacrament Church Berchem making construction


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