Dessauvage; a view to the future

Bijgewerkt: 4 nov 2019



In contrast with the similarities of Dessauvages buildings in concept and appearance; there is a large discrepancy in their current consumption and receptivity.





In Vosselaar the church is currently being transformed into a lively meeting place, offering services for leisure. At this moment the building is stripped to its shell and will soon be build up again. Apart from a precise restauration, Studio Roma, Sven Sterken and Achilles Design developed three interior interventions in the form of large-scale furniture. When completed, the building won’t show the large structural and technical adjustments -- and the major exceeding of the budget -- being carried out to ensure its future. Should we therefore question ourselves if these actions are worth the investment?


In Westmalle we face a completely different situation. Unlike most other churches of Dessauvage, the pastoral role of the Sint-Paulus church is not being questioned so far. The parish church, together with the parish hall, both in impeccable condition, are still playing an important role in the community. Nevertheless, it is just now, in a context where there are still many possibilities open, that the future of this heritage must be considered.


Such a pragmatic and urgent repurposing did happen, about 20 years ago, at the Monasterium Magnificat. It could be assumed that the scale and layout of the typology of a monastery building give reason to a convenient reconversion in a health care institute. But in this case, they face major adaptation issues. Fire regulations demand for zoning and the false ceilings and cable trays to cover up techniques do not contribute to the architecture at all. The concrete has been painted white and colorful curtains have been hung in order to add the warmth and create a homely feeling. Every cell has its own terrace, but sanitary facilities are still being shared. The least we could say is that this building is adapted to 21e century comfort and contemporary culture of care.

On top of these adaptation problems the building itself is dealing with technical and structural problems. Because the monastery is built on flooding area, large investments have been done to prevent the building from being flood. Also, the enormous exterior surface area and the large circulation halls lead to high maintenance costs. All these things together make that the future of the Monasterium Magnificat is unsecure.