Repurposing Grote Kerk

April 11, 2018

The Grote Kerk in Veere, the municipality of Veere and Monumentenbezit were eager to use the Grote Kerk as a level cultural stage for the entire province. The repurposing required a number of modifications to the large building, such as installing floor heating. There was also a problem of an ecological nature: the nave was home to 350 dwarf bats.

Dwarf bats were hibernating in the church at the time, which had been causing a nuisance for some time in the form of droppings. For most of the winter, the animals resided in the tower of the church, which was an ideal hibernation place for the bats due to a constant temperature. In the summer, the bats were also in the nave and side aisles. Together with the Mammalian Society, a plan was drawn up to develop the church without damaging the bat population. This led to several interventions.



Floor renovation and repurposing


Construction company Meliskerke




Watch the video about the repurposing

A process of years
In September 2017, a floor was installed in the ship at the level of the canopy base. The floor was installed to provide a place for bats in the canopy to stay during the summer without causing a nuisance or inconvenience. The next step was to install so-called "road creep facilities" and entrance openings to ensure that the site is as attractive as possible. Only once this was done could work begin on "relocating" the bats. By sealing gaps in the vessel, the bats are encouraged to choose the new or improved site. This process takes at least 4 years.

Increase comfort for cultural programming
Because of the indoor climate, little to no programming was done in the Grote Kerk outside of spring and summer. In collaboration with Ernst Veen, bureau XPEX and the municipality of Veere, Monumentenbezit helped to draw up the plan for reprogramming the Grote Kerk in Veere. To allow for year-round programming, the church needed to be able to be heated and connections had to be made to allow for more flexible use. A small part of the church was already fitted with underfloor heating in 2005. It was decided to take out the hard stone wooden floor in the nave and side aisles that was installed in the 1980s. In its place was laid a concrete floor that is insulated and equipped with underfloor heating. Space was included in the various gutters and hollow ducts for utilities such as electricity and data.

Special finds
In early February 2018, construction company Meliskerke started excavating the church floor under the supervision of the Walcheren Archaeological Service. During the excavation several peculiarities were encountered. In addition to the expected bones, buckles and some coins, a complete tombstone and the foundations of an unusual steam engine were found. The latter seems to have been intended to blow the adjacent bathroom full of steam. In the early 19th century, healing effects were attributed to steam. This principle may have been employed to cure the English or French soldiers who used the church as a military hospital during this period. The tombstone is a special find because it tells the story of two ministers who ended up in Veere after fleeing from France. This tombstone is the only complete tombstone from the Great Church that has been preserved. The finds will retain their place in the church. In the new floor, recesses will be made to accommodate walkable glass.

Art, culture and encounters
The top layer of the existing floor was removed, smoothed out and the insulation and concrete floor with heating was applied on top of it. The Grote Kerk now houses a unique experience and provides plenty of space for art, culture and new encounters.

Want to know more about the Great Church? Check out the monument page here.

Also read about our other projects