Kanunnik Petrus Jozef Triest Plein
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The Sint Jozef building of PC Caritas in Melle has unexpectedly been given a second life as a monumental outdoor space open to patients, staff, visitors and local residents.
The history is remarkable. The majestic Sint Jozef building in the heart of the campus was under demolition. Meanwhile, BAVO set up participative workshops of doctors, management, board members, staff and patients to develop a vision around the Psychiatric Centre of the Future. Many of the ideas that were formulated about the general layout of the campus and its relationship with the village environment turned out to fit in perfectly with the existing building. The classical hospital is a collection of buildings with a specific purpose: bed house, therapy house, work house, etc. Between the closed buildings, the patients have little left except for a gaping void of cropped lawn. In this narrowly-defined geography, many activities have no place in the hospital. The project definition formed a collage of the desires of patients and personnel. Sint Jozef was thus described as a monumental outdoor space that serves as a central meeting place, a rambla in which to stroll around, a place to take shelter, a place to look out over, a wishing wall, a gap, somewhere to sit and smoke a cigarette and much more.
It was then decided to stop with the demolition. The monumental outdoor space was given the name Kanunnik Petrus Jozef Triest Plein to emphasise that it is not an empty building, but a space of possibilities for patients, personnel and residents alike.
The proposal of Architects De Vylder Vinck Taillieu preserves Sint Jozef in its current state of demolition with its traces of destruction. The demand for a square is interpreted as a requirement for a space for desires. Sint Jozef is opened up as a complex emptiness with varying degrees of accessibility, light, transparency, closedness, nature, collectivity, etc. The aim is to provide ample space that can be appropriated by anyone.
The shared commitment is to postpone the degradation process of Sint Jozef for as long as possible and not to carry out any irreversible actions that shall have a detrimental impact on the future of the building. The building can get a new interpretation in the future and can be adapted to the changing needs and desires of the psychiatric centre.