In one of my ‘Campine Tours’ I came across this textbook case of post-war church architecture. The church Holy Bernadette was built in 1962 and is located in the north part of Deurne, Antwerp’s most populated district. 1960’s Progress and prosperity were translated in massive (social) housing development and community projects. In the district of Deurne, no less than 9 churches were built after World War II. The church Holy Bernadette was designed by local architect Meyers as a temporary church. From the 1970’s onward Deurne became subject to an urban exodus, just like the rest of Flanders, Deurne experienced secularization and a rapid decline in weekly church goers. The envisaged church, planned to be much bigger, was never built. The modest flat-roofed hall church is built in concrete and flanked by a tower, conceived as an open structure. Inside the altar was placed in the middle of the room, on three sides surrounded by the congregation.
In 2016 the parish united with 3 neighbouring parishes and the church became redundant. The church Holy Bernadette suffers from high maintenance costs and a bad structural condition, causing that one year later the church was put up for sale. The church will give way to a development with 30 social housing units and offices on the ground floor. Responding to the desire of the parish the complex will also provide a small prayer room.
© De Scheirder © Arro Antwerpen