Due to dwindling numbers of churchgoers, religious institutions in the Netherlands are combining congregations and selling the left over churches. This is the case of Bethelkerk in The Hague. Built in 1938, it served a populous congregation, till its scheduled closure in 2013 due to financial reasons. The church building gets a second life as a Children’s Story Centre, inspired by one of the best stories ever written: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The result is a vibrant, fun space that accommodates book related activities for kids between 3 to 12 years old. The main building is split up in different levels to offer multiple functions related to storytelling, playing, reading and making. All activities are arranged around the inner courtyard with the story tree. A new extension at the back flips the original church entrance.

program | Adaptive reuse of former church into a children’s centre & library

info | 2013, The Hague, NL

type | Design studio, Heritage & Architecture, Delft University of Technology

role | Individual student project

responsibilities | Research & analysis, original idea and design, 2d & 3d modelling, presentation

tutors | Alexander de Ridder, Sara Stroux

read more | Religious heritage in The Hague

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A neigbourhood asset

The population of the neighbourhood is expected to be widely transformed in the near future. The reuse aims to address this upcoming urban and social change by introducing a facility that would generate suitable conditions for new families with children. In this direction, the Children’s Story Centre will perform as a neighbourhood hub and host community activities both inside and outside its walls, working together with the municipal library as well as other private and public after-school facilities in the neighbourhood.

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