The Broerenkerk church in the city of Zwolle in Netherlands was part of the Dominican monastery founded in 1465. The monastery was closed in 1580 and the monks were expelled. From 1640 until 1982 the church was used for Protestant services. After a restoration in 1983-1988 it has been used for cultural events. The Broerenkerk church, now named ‘Waanders In der Broeren‘ has been transformed into a bookstore by Dutch architecture firm BK Architecten. The bookstore, which opened its doors to the public in July 2013 features a shop, catering business and exhibition space. The biggest challenge for the architects was to add up around 700 square meter shopping floor while preserving the architectural features like the height, the long axis, the high arches, enormous stained glass windows, the ceiling paintings and the pipe organ, which constituted the historical value of this structure.
“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.”
Instead of constructing the three additional floors in the church, these floors are placed in the side wings of the church between the original pillars. Therefore, in future, the built in floors could be removed without demolishing the building. The central axis is kept vacant, so that one can feel the enormity of the space. On one side of the axis is a contemporary stained glass panel made by Norwegian artist Kjell Nupen adding a vibrant touch of colour, while the other side features a refurbished organ – both assist in stimulating customers to overlook the entire length of the Broerenkerk church. The architects used a neutral colour palette which complimented the warm tints of the church and also helped in highlighting the books and other products. The furniture design, again very sober, well detailed and mostly made of wood was inspired by works of Dutch architect called Dom Hans van der Laan who was also a monk and made designs for several monasteries. The architects at BK Architecten simply tried to translate his way of designing to designs well fitted for retail objectives.