UtrechtBob van Reeth, AWG Architecten

The site in the centre of Utrecht was long used as a makeshift car park. In the late 1980s the local council earmarked it for the development of new homes. When a competition failed to produce a satisfying result, the council reformulated the design brief. The focus now shifted towards a cultural and historic consciousness; the site’s history was to be central.

The lost Mariakerk, one of the five 11th-century collegiate churches that formed part of the Utrecht cross of churches, was at the centre of a so-called clerical immunity. Walled in and closed off from the outside world, it was a place that housed canons. The immunity was characterized by large plots of land, at the centre of which stood big stone houses of varying heights surrounded by lower servants’ quarters…