LAURENCE CHURCH, ROTTERDAM
Saturday 07 Jan 2012

 

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The Laurence Church is one of the oldest buildings in Rotterdam. For many centuries the church has been a religious center, but it also played a key role in public life.

This is still the case nowadays. The building is used for religious services but also for readings, concerts and other cultural activities. Our task was to design a permanent exhibition that manifests the stories of the Laurence Church, but at the same time leaves room for the other activities and respects the church as a monument. The design for the exhibition is based on stories that are embedded within the building. The exhibition is not traditional because there is no historical collection displayed. Instead stories and events are depicted and presented to the visitors.

What was the challenge?
To leave room for the other activities we decided to limit the exhibition to the chapels. The only visible additions include visual elements and murals. The characteristic white walls remain visible. The atmosphere in the church will benefit from silence. Sound that is generated by the exhibition would be disturbing to churchgoers. As stories and oral history are an important part of the exhibition, visitors will receive a specially developed audio book - in the shape of a bible - and headphones to be able to listen to the stories.

Design solutions
In the Netherlands never before such a project was carried out in a church or monument. The monumental status of the building remains intact and its normal activities can still take place. The historic value of the building is not affected by the exhibition and is even enhanced by adding new narrative layers. We were able to add historical and narrative layers without using a physical museum collection but by designing new installations and an audio book. The result is an exhibition in which the various chapels tell stories about different aspects; the past and the present, life and death, the city's bombing and its reconstruction as well as its silence. This way of exhibition design is a completely new way to give monuments a second life as carriers of history.

Completion date: 10-9-2010