According to Visser, he first became interested in the preservation of old buildings when studying at the University of Delft in southern Holland. Since then, he has developed a strong belief in the profound importance of the existing environment, and he imbues this belief into the foundations of all of his architectural projects. “Our design process starts with the existing environment. We are inclined to the local, the small scale, but we do not merely copy it. We are averse from architecture that is associative. We aim to design in the pure grammatical language of architecture. At the end of the day it is our ambition to make contemporary architecture that intensifies the character of the existing environment.”
Though Visser is responsible for a variety of projects, his firm is perhaps most famous for its inspired design House in a Church, completed last year, in which his firm transformed a cavernous church into a modern family home. Capricious and tumultuous enough to constitute the makings of a Disney film, the church’s history was a long and sad one until Visser’s renovation. “The original church was constructed in the 1930s, but since 1960 it was used as a garage for fixing cars and storage.” Visser says that during this time as a garage, the church’s exterior was covered with metal plates until the point that it resembled an airplane hangar.
It remained in this state until Visser and his firm stepped in with the goal of transforming the church into a modern family home. “[Since] the church had a volume of 3000 cube, as big as six average family houses, there was lots of space for just one family house… The challenge was to create a feeling of enclosure in this enormous space, without losing the grandeur of the church.”