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How Choorstraat-Papenhulst Reminds us of Da Vinci’s Last Supper

Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Choorstraat-Papenhulst, by Buro Lubbers, s’Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. There is always something intriguing about a project that exudes simplicity. You know, the ones that look effortlessly put together, like models on a catwalk. Nestled within the historic setting of a neo-gothic chapel, the project Choorstraat-Papenhulst was sparked by the transformation of a historic center within the immediate vicinity of the courtyard into a luxurious apartment building. Buro Lubbers has designed a space that is part of a sequence of squares around Sint-Jans Cathedral, giving the area a little boost to mark the change in residencies. The initial design as implemented is supposed to be a transformation of a private courtyard into a semi-public square. But unlike a bustling city square, the serenity of the space is palpable. Although the overall design lacks greenery, there is no sense of it being a cold and hardened place. Just as you can find solitude, comfort, and warmth inside a church, the space has a private character that allows you to find your bearings. With the addition of a good design, it is able to foster a mesmerizing presence with a welcoming and peaceful atmosphere.

Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Masterplan of Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

Choorstraat-Papenhulst

The whole of the space is paved in random strokes of Irish bluestone that is darkly rich with fossils. The linear pattern of this paving is reflected in a scattering of parallel wooden strips on which seating and tables are placed, made also out of wood.It is the gothic character of the Irish bluestone that makes this space so relatable to the historic building facades, yet the warmth brought about by the wood reflects the wooden chapel doors and makes the area seamlessly modern.

Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

The Wine Cooler That Keeps People Coming Back The centerpiece of the design revolves around a 24-meter-long wooden table with wooden cube-shaped seating in a tightly knit cluster. The whole attire looks cozy enough to host a modernized Medieval banquet — just perhaps in tinier portions. That’s because an integrated water feature that serves as a wine cooler occupies the middle of this wooden table. Yes, a wine cooler! Serving small portions of food and having cool wine under the sun filtering trees should just about fit the bill in keeping with today’s trends. See More Projects in the Netherlands: 

Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Masterplan of Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

Planting Design The only soft scape is the trees along the edge of the chapel façade. There were design limitations due to an underlying parking garage, so the trees had to be placed immediately near the chapel. Named Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnociadus dioica), the trees have thin foliage that allows light to filter through to the seating area and do not overshadow the visual significance of the chapel. As mentioned above, the space originally was designed to be accessed by all; however, the courtyard was soon after made only accessible by the residents. This could open up further design possibilities and perhaps give the opportunity to add more greenery.
Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

The Atmospheric Use of Lighting Lighting plays a role in making certain elements of the design ornamental. Lighting on the ground brightens up the trees and special lighting poles set at different heights give the design further depth and dimension. Spotlights on the lighting poles focus on certain objects, giving importance to the design elements that were made from a very clean palette of materials. An Award Winning Design This space was acknowledged in 2004, winning a Dutch Design Award in the “Public Space” category. The jury has quoted: “A long wooden table, next to a church, with wooden cube-shaped seats, 12 altogether, one spontaneously can imagine Da Vinci’s Last Supper here, in the open air. This public space has changed into a special artifact, in which ornamental and symbolic elements have a practical function: An artificial water element, integrated in the table, serves as a wine cooler; the latticework in the pavement is made of the same material (wood) as the table and benches and (is structured) in a delicate way”.
Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

Masterful Simplistic Design What is it about this design that makes it so intriguing? Is it the linear response to the original space with the use of such basic shapes that, although it looks modern, brings to us the feeling of traveling back in time? Maybe it is the general hush and the feeling that you need to gather around and speak in polite whispers, which you don’t particularly get from walking around in a less private city square? Or perhaps simply the presence of the imposing chapel gives the space a clever advantage in invoking a sense of awe and reverence in the beholder. Do you think there is more to this simplistic design than meets the eye?
Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

Full Project Credits for Choorstraat-Papenhulst

Project: Choorstraat-Papenhulst, A courtyard for Leonardo da Vinci’s last supper Landscape Architecture: Buro Lubbers Location: ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands Area: 1800 m2 Costs: € 125.000 Realization: 2003 (phase 1), 2008 (phase 2) Photos and text: Buro Lubbers Award: Winner Dutch Design Awards 2004 (category: design public space) Show on Google Maps

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Article by Win Phyo

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