Garden view

Hasselt Beguinage

A remodelling of Hasselt's C18th beguinage to house the university's architecture faculty

David Kohn Architects, in collaboration with Belgian practice Bovenbouw Architectuur, have won an international design competition to remodel an 18th-century beguinage in Hasselt, Belgium. The project will create a new public space and home for the University of Hasselt’s architecture faculty, including multi-functional spaces, studios, teaching spaces, an auditorium and associated ancillary rooms.

Located in Hasselt’s city centre, the beguinage surrounds a church that was once the tallest structure in the city. Having been bombed in the Second World War, the church now lies as a ruin within the site. Seeking to recover the historic balance of the site, David Kohn Architects and Bovenbouw’s design reorganises the gardens to create a series of new outdoor spaces, the largest of which is a generous circular lawn. Combined with the sensitive refurbishment of the beguinage, the strategy seeks to reposition the complex as a destination for a broad range of users from students to local residents to regional tourists.

Surrounded by a continuous wall with few openings, the enclosed nature of the site reflects its original function to exclude the city. David Kohn Architects and Bovenbouw seek to increase the permeability of the site whilst retaining this strong sense of an inside and outside. A large circular opening in the wall creates a new street entrance whilst recent insensitive openings in the boundary are replaced with small circular perforations. A cobbled route through the site connects the old and new entrances whilst connecting each of the new garden spaces.

With focus placed on restoring and refurbishing the existing buildings, the only built addition to the site is a panoramic belvedere in the southern corner, a bold intervention that rises above the beguinage wall. At 26 metres and taller than the original church, it is a confident statement of the relationship between the past and present, reinstating the centrality of the beguinage and acting as a wayfinder for visitors to the city.


Beguinage Refurbishment


Hasselt, Belgium


Province of Limburg in partnership with City of Hasselt and UHasselt





Construction Value

Design Team

David Kohn, Matt Volsen, Tom Whittaker, Julia Cramer


Dirk Somers, William Burgess

Hasselt City Plan
Site Plan
Front entrance to site
Rear entrance to site
Garden view
Ruin pool
Night view
Belvedere view across Hasselt
View to the belvedere from Badderijstraat
View through design studios
View through attic spaces
Living space axonometric
Studio space axonometric

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