Waanders In de Broeren by BK. Architecten

Waanders In de Broeren by BK. Architecten

Location: Zwolle, The Netherlands
Year: 2013
Photo courtesy: Joop van Putten & Hans Westerink

On Saturday the 13th of july 2013 ‘Waanders In de Broeren’ opened his doors for the general public. This innovative shop concept is established in the 15th century Broerenkerk. In the shop design three floors and a shop interior are added to the church. With this new function the city of Zwolle maintains this unique cultural heritage site. BK. Architecten – Jos Burger and Wouter Keijzer – made the designs for this project and accompanied the total building proces.


The architectural concept of this shop in church is based on two, sometimes conflicting, elements. The first time we entered this church we immediately felt the historical value of this building. The space, the height, the long axis, the high arches, enormous stained glass windows, the ceiling paintings and the pipe organ: this 15th century building really earned his place in the city of Zwolle. For the Waanders in de Broeren project we were asked to add about 700 square meter shopping floor to this dominican church. Our first goal was to keep that first time historical feeling alive even with all those asked extra floor meters. So we wanted all the additions made to the church to be sober, in respect to the church, modest. Therefore the 3 added floors are placed in the side wing of the church between the original pillars, outside the central ship. The construction of these floors isn’t connected to the church, so therefore in the future the build in floors could be removed without demolishing the building.


With keeping the central axis free you still can feel the size of the church. Having main eye-catchers on both sides of the axis -with the organ and a modern stained glass window (designed by Norwegian artist Kjell Nupen) will stimulate customers to overlook the entire length of the Broerenkerk. The materials we used for our additions are all very pure and sober. We only used wood in 3 colours and white painted plastering work. So the main colour palet in the store will come from the warm tints of the church and off course the colours of the books and other products.


On the other hand the main goal of the shop off course is selling products. So our main designing goal had to be creating an optimal store concept, with logical routings and attractive product presentation. In a multilevel store one of the most important things is to get customers on your top floor. Once you have your customers there they will have to get back down and with going down they will have to pass all of your floors and see all of the products you’re selling. With this in mind we created an attractive central staircase. On these stairs you rise only half a level a time and by climbing the stairs you walk around an 11m bookcase. So you don’t really feel like climbing a stair, it’s more an experience that ends straight under the renovated church arches. The bookcases are part of the main construction.


Our client in this project, mister Waanders, told us in our first conversation about a Dutch architect called Dom Hans van der Laan. This architect was a monk and made designs for several monasteries. The furniture in these designs is often made of wood and always very sober and well detailed. For the furniture here in the church we found inspiration in his work and we tried to translate his way of designing to designs well fitted for retail objectives.

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Thank you for reading this article!

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