These days churches tend to go unused and stand empty. That’s why the Dutch BOEi started an open competition to address these empty churches. Its aim was to create a temporary use for them by placing small, reusable boxes with various functions inside of them. They are meant to be placed in any church and not to be designed with one specific church in mind to account for different locations and layouts.
Assembly of the boxes has to be fast and easy, and all the parts have to fit through the church door, because depending on the location no other access can be guaranteed.
I helped Sander Vijgen Architect on the design and created the visualisations.
The design consists of 3 boxes: one restroom and kitchen unit, one meeting unit for up to 12 people and one temporary living unit. The meeting-box can be put on top of the kitchen unit and can then be accessed via stairs. This gives a lot of flexibility to the design to be placed in even small churches. The temporary living unit is meant for a custodian so that he can stay in the church while an exhibition takes place. It has enough space for two people.
Flexybox is based on exhibition stand construction since a lot of the details are similar: the boxes do not have to be weatherproof, they have to function more or less independently but can be connected to the building’s facilities, and they have to be built quickly and reasonably to be able to change locations multiple times in their life span.
The simple and elegant facade made from black wood puts the design into the background and let’s the interior of the church as well as the exhibition shine. The boxes seem to not even touch the church and a LED-stripe along the bottom underlines that floating effect even more.
The wooden panels are coated to be scratch-resistant and easily cleaned, thereby creating a lasting surface that is anthracite on the outside but natural and warm on the inside.
Flexybox is constructed in a very modular fashion, so as to contain a wide variety of functions. Bigger living units or fully functional office spaces could be built and their appearance makes them viable in any kind of space, not just churches.
Further plans and drawings can be found at the project website (Dutch) of Sander Vijgen Architect.