In 1996, the Dominican sisters had their old convent on Vlamingdam in Bruges inner city demolished and replaced by a new building. In 2011, the building was converted into an assisted living facility called Engelendale (Valley of Angels). Three years later, the number of living units was more than doubled from 40 to 96 in an expansion to an djacent property and work on the existing building.

Project details

Project WZC Engelendale Expansion
Architect Gino Debruyne & Architects
Client vzw Volkswelzijn Bruge
Products used
Terca Olm
Koramic Plain Tile 301
Area 4,500 m²
 

Assisted living facility WZC Engelendale covered with Terca Olm and Koramic Plain Tile 301 tiles

Assisted living facility WZC Engelendale, Belgium © Gino Debruyne & Architecten

Assisted living facility WZC Engelendale covered with Terca Olm tiles

Assisted living facility WZC Engelendale, Belgium © Gino Debruyne & Architecten

Assisted living facility WZC Engelendale covered with Terca Olm tiles

Assisted living facility WZC Engelendale, Belgium © Gino Debruyne & Architecten

The converted building

Upon request of the then head nun, architect Gino Debruyne conceived a more flexible convent building in 1995, which offered living space to those in need of care as the congregation got smaller. To this end, he envisioned larger common rooms on the ground floor, rooms with bathroom facilities as well as wide corridors and allowed for the installation of smart technologies and utility lines. A ceramic covering with bricks and roof tiles ensured the building’s integration into its inner-city surroundings. The lower height of the building and the receding façade on the floor accommodating the living areas allowed more light and privacy towards the street and the neighbors.

A new opportunity

After its transformation into the WZC Engelendale (Valley of Angels assisted living facility), an expansion was necessary to keep it economically viable. This was made possible when an adjacent property became available for purchase. Instead of one long building, architect Gino Debruyne sketched three structures with two storeys and a pitched roof, which meander into an interior courtyard. They contain assisted living rooms, studios as well as flats along Kapelstraat for couples that are more mobile. Between the convent and the expansion site, there is a new central entrance with a reception area and a circulation axis.

Creating a new place to feel at home

The three houses are constructed using the same ceramic materials as the convent. However, the architect opted for a longer brick installed with thin-set mortar. Some of the brick ends at the base of the façade are glazed in green in a playful reference to the convent’s garden. Cutouts lower the visual profile of the roof and reinforce the image of city homes.
 
Between the two wings of the existing care facility, the architect installed a new floating glass structure that serves as a living and therapy room for the residential units on that floor. In the rear of the facility, a contemporary extension with a green roof adds to the cafeteria. A garden shed was replaced by a building with flats overlooking the old convent’s garden and two gazebos.

The meandering form of the building layout offers a promenade with ever-changing view of the inner courtyard.

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