VLP Chapel . Grand-Bigard

tcct . Photos: Luc Roymans . + archinect

The chapel project for VLP, the Flemish Lasallian School Network, is a metaphor for the pedagogic philosophy with which the institution embraces people.

How can we transform the turmoil and unrest deep within us so the visitor can leave the space 'different', changed, rested, happy, saved? The experience of the chapel should be so powerful that it motivates visitors to take the initiative in their own schools.
The architectural structure and integrity of the original chapel in Grand-Bigard, Belgium was kept unchanged—all of the redesign's attention went to the refurbishment of the interior. The traditional features of the old chapel, like its apse and stained glass windows, were 'hatched in.' This creates a totally new and unexpected environment.
The visitor enters an open, apparently indefinable space: there is no center, no direction, no image. A white ceiling, walls covered with white shutters separated by thin red lines, white sand as flooring.

Everything breathes sober, serene receptivity for what the visitor brings in. The chapel starts as a white space or void waiting to be filled with the visitor's stories, meaning and expectation. The encounter with the mystery of life begins in the inner presence of the visitor. Through unfolding of the apse, the stained glass windows and the view of the green surroundings enter the space and appeal to the inner strength. The inherent story of the chapel engages with the story of the visitor.
The chapel is filled with sand in order to create a relieving, muted space for the senses. Entering of the room becomes a ritual, and the floor turns into a large writing and drawing plane.
The room invites for silence, reflection, interaction, and initiative.

Type: Remodeling of an old historic chapel
Client: VLP, Flemish Lasallian School Network
Location: De La Salle Center in Grand-Bigard, Belgium
Year: 2009-2011

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