The new GASTHAUS: Communal Effort

Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

In this research by design, the vacant Loreto Convent in Simpelveld is transformed into a local healthcare hub. By combining healthcare with recreation and a community center, different groups benefit from each other. The convent is connected to the village both spatially and socially. We translate the outcomes of this research into a general method, that can be applied to other situations.

Communal Effort
The transformation of the former convent is the result of a communal effort. A strong team of healthcare, recreation and heritage professionals contributes to this research. The designer plays an exploratory, consulting role in this process. We map the spatial and social interaction of the village elderly and design principles that encourage exercise and self-sufficiency in everyday environment. The result of the project will be a practical development plan for the Loreto Convent. The process will be monitored in a workbook, allowing The new GASTHAUS to inspire other initiatives.


Elderly Care in a Shrinkage Area
The new GASTHAUS is a community center and a care facility for recovering elders in the loopholes of the healthcare system of South-Limburg. This new place in the village activates the elderly, prevents loneliness and isolation and brings life to the village community. The new GASTHAUS is a non-clinical, familiar and activating environment, that speeds up a successful return home. Tapping in on the village network is a key moment. That means that The new GASTHAUS is not just a question of architecture, but especially one of generating spatial principles for a network. The new GASTHAUS will be a public place, that sensibly weaves into the spatial and social fabric of the village. We design The new GASTHAUS thinking from the bed of the recuperating elderly, through the living room, outside into the garden, over the streets, right out to the landscape surrounding the village.

New Life for Heritage

The neo-gothic Loreto Convent in Simpelveld always has been a place where nuns cared for their fellow-humans. The convent dates from 1878, but has been vacant since 2013. In order to survive, the convent building must gain a new function, that is rooted in the local community. The new GASTHAUS serves three different groups:
1. People recovering from illness or surgery can stay at The new GASTHAUS for temporary nursing.
2. Villagers meet each other in The new GASTHAUS. They can act as volunteers and support caregivers.
3. Tourists visit The new GASTHAUS. They find tranquility and contemplation at an authentic location.
By also connecting the convent to the village spatially, it will keep playing an important part in local identity.

  • Location: Kloosterstraat, Simpelveld, Nederland
  • research by design: 2015 - 2017
  • Client: Creative Industry Fund
  • Partners: David Habets, Herbert Habets, Zuyd Hogeschool, Hermon Erfgoed, Meandergroep, LAgroup
Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

new public program for the village

Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

the garden as link between village and GASTHAUS

Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

linking recreation, care and public program in the village

Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

The Loreto convent is embedded in the green village structure of Simpelveld

Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

the GASTHAUS as a part of the village's spatial and social network

Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

making new routes and stimulating new routines

Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

Het nieuwe GASTHAUS

meetingplace for the village and caring residence for the rehabilitating elderly