Rising from the site of an Augustinian convent within a military hospital complex, August is now a refined hospitality concept that preserves a sense of sanctuary and sacredness in Antwerp, Belgium. Brought to life by Vincent Van Duysen Architects along with Wouter Callebaut Architecten, its five buildings include a hotel, restaurant, spa, bar, and gardens.
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For his first-ever hotel project, Van Duysen and his team carefully restored the neoclassical site, paying close attention to its architectural splendor and adding modern upgrades for functionality. "First and foremost, our goal was to respect the historical DNA of the site and its surroundings and to align with the general principles governing the redevelopment of listed buildings," says Van Duysen.
Each building’s complex tile patterns were restored, hand-painted, and put back into place with the utmost care. The existing windows were preserved whenever possible, and sustainability was slated as a top priority. The former military chapel even had its steel foundation’s strength tested via new technology regularly used in Antwerp’s shipyards.
"All design decisions were guided by a respect for the existing architecture, with the willful intent not to let the necessary structural works create any visual impediments," says the architect.
For the interior, that same reverence for history and classic, in-line finishes is evident. "The vision was to respect the authentic ambiance, keeping it untouched and modest with a kind of elegant simplicity," says owner Mouche Van Hool.
The rest of the buildings’ interiors feature gray-green timber paneling and white moldings with black accents. All of the fittings and fixtures are custom-made, with lighting by Flos and furniture from Vincent Van Duysen for Molteni&C. Serene light passes through an array of windows, while black awnings, which linger above August’s main entrance, serve to "identify the project and beckon visitors," Van Duysen says.