On view

the Church

A Monument Filled with Stories

Laurenskerk, Rotterdam (NL)

The Laurenskerk (Church of Saint Lawrence) is the oldest building in the city of Rotterdam. For many citizens of Rotterdam, the church is the symbol of pre-war and post-war Rotterdam. The church was largely destroyed in the Second World War and rebuilt after the war, therefore many of the visual narrative elements have disappeared from the interior. Our task was to bring the stories that are contained within the building to the surface once again.

Rotterdam (NL)
Laurenskerk Rotterdam
3000 m2
Concept, Exhibition design, Project management
Herman Kossmann (lead), Nienke Bouwhuis, Robert van der Linde, Martijn Sas, Lieke Neuman, Nienke van den Berg, Kathelijne Eisses, Quirine van Wieringen, Serena Bigatti
Exhibition construction and interior
Gielissen Interiors and Exhibitions, Sander Hoekstra
Electricity and light
Da’s Techniek, Erik Das
Film Bombardments in the Chapel of Peace and Reconcilition, Audiotour
De Aanpak
Holy figures
De Bosrand, Ruud de Jong
Interactive installations
Bas Bossinade, Thomas Kopperschlaeger
Wall painting Chapel Saints and Reform
Wonderwalls, Jan Pronk
Models Laurenskerk
Made by Mistake
Design and build Chapel of the Mission
Paul Bodoni
Design and build Crossings
Laurien Mulder and Mariël Kampshoff
AVB Vertalers
Audiotour English version
Tony Torn

Printing and binding audiobook
Mart Spruijt, Jos Morree, Boekbinderij Patist, Mike Silva
Engineering hardware audiobook
KITT engineering
Each chapel its own theme

The presentation had to be designed in such a way that the church could continue to be used for a wide variety of concerts, meetings, etc. That is why we brought the chapels, which had fallen into disuse, back to life and left the large central space empty. Themes are depicted in the chapels of the church, which are all related to the Laurenskerk and Rotterdam. Each chapel has been given its own content and form  and is therefore completely different in each case. A collection of spatial and story-driven installations allow the walls to speak about the present and past, about life and death, about the bombing and reconstruction of the city, as well as its silence. 
“The layout has added a new layer to the austere reconstruction architecture of the church.

All religions in the city

In the ambulatory of the church, a series of triptychs were made, each of which depict an important holiday for one of the many religions in the city. From Christmas, Holi-Phagwah, Eid al-Fitr (Sugar Feast) to Passover and Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice).

“The layout has added a new layer to the austere reconstruction architecture of the church. It has not become an exhibition in the space, rather the space has become the exhibition.”

Herman Kossmann


Between knowing and experiencing

The design of the exhibition raises questions and invites deeper investigation. A special ‘Bible’ developed by us, an audiobook that each visitor receives at the start of the exhibition, provides the stories at the different chapels and if you want more information, you can look that up herein. In this way, stories and information are separated from each other. The audio stories allow various people from the present and past to speak, guiding you through subjects like ‘How do I become a saint?’, the Iconoclastic Fury of 1566, dying, bombing and charity, or offer you the chance to hear music from the beautiful organs of the church.


D&AD Award 2011

Exhibition design, shortlisted

International Design Excellence Awards 2011


Designpreis Deutschland 2012


Inside Award 2011

Creative Re-use, shortlisted

FX International Interior Design Award London 2011

Public Space, winner

IIDA Global Excellence Awards 2011

Cultural/Institutional/Educational, honorable mentioned

WAN Interior Awards 2011

Culture and Civic, shortlisted