The Dutch architectural firm Leijh Kappelhoff Seckel van den Doppelsteen (LKSVDD) Architecten found an intriguing and humorous way to renovate a 1928 church into a residential loft, aptly named "God's Loftstory". Located in Haarlo, Netherlands, LKSVDD Architecten preserved the historic nature of the building’s exterior and reinvented the interior through a simple concept; strip, isolate and furnish. This economical, smart renovation was also accompanied by the installation of a green-roofed shipping container studio and shed, which further defined LKSVDD’s holistic, thoughtful work.
The renovation of the church was designed as an open structure, which takes advantage of the spaciousness of the 1100 cubic meter volume. The design team at LKSVDD Architecten preserved the stained glass, panel doors, rafters and the stage to give the loft authentic character. The centerpiece of the room is a stairway, which was creatively nicknamed the “stairway to have-fun”. The stairs serve as a room divider between the kitchen, living room and office. Old wooden floorboards were repurposed for the walls of the stairway and a bright red color playfully accents the stairs. The stairway leads to the only other architectural addition, which houses the bedroom and bathroom.
The clients renovated the church in a method to not only be pure, functional, and cost-effective, but to also make a playful statement of the previous nature of the building. Their humor, love and creativity can be found in the project elements like the swing, the “stairway to have fun”, and the wooden “lost sheep” in the garden, not to mention the—literal—bathroom humor.
The exterior yard is planted as an orchard and a mixture of herb, vegetable, and flower gardens. This edible escape provides the owners with a private garden with a view of the church. As outlined by the architects, this can be seen as a “contemporary nod to the old monastery gardens”. Adjacent to this garden and acting as a privacy fence is a green-roofed shed made from a 40 foot container.