Stationshuis Community Centre, Merkem

Stationshuis  Community Centre, Merkem - Rapp+Rapp - (c) Kim Zwarts
Stationshuis  Community Centre, Merkem - Rapp+Rapp - (c) Kim Zwarts
Stationshuis  Community Centre, Merkem - Rapp+Rapp - (c) Kim Zwarts
Stationshuis  Community Centre, Merkem - Rapp+Rapp - (c) Kim Zwarts

Merkem is clearly a dynamic residential village. To enhance this dynamism, the local authority decided to build a ‘village hall’ on the square alongside the Stationsstraat. In a drive to increase the viability of villages in the Westhoek area, the Province of West Flanders is concentrating on renewing village centres and building ‘village halls’ – places that local groups can use for their clubs and societies. The site in question was once a tram stop, hence the project’s name: Stationshuis (Station House).

Rapp+Rapp took a very surprising approach to the development of the project. The ‘village hall’ is designed as a colonnade containing a double-height hall and a walled garden. It is in an architectural idiom and language that is currently spoken all over Europe (one of the first and most prominent applications being the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach am Neckar in Germany by David Chipperfield). But, in Merkem, the idiom resonates more to the numerous military cemeteries for which the area is so well known, than to a place where villagers come together to play cards or rehearse for the annual play. But perhaps the architectural idiom, slightly incongruous and, at first sight, rather aloof, is precisely what is needed in a village where it is no longer a given that everyone knows everyone else, or even wants to. The architects call their building a ‘stage’. And this is how it seems to work. Surrounded by double-height windows, the central space is extremely transparent. 

Author: Oswald Devisch. This text has been published in the Architecture Review Flanders N°11. Embedded Architecture.




Rapp+Rapp, Christian Rapp en Harrie van der Meijs


Gemeentebestuur Houthulst


Nederlands, Engels


9e Linieplein




8650 Merkem (gemeente Houthulst)



Datum ontwerp: 


Datum oplevering: 



650 m²


2 150 m³

Totale bouwkost: 

1 200 000 €, excl. BTW

Totale bouwkost per m2: 

2 000 €, excl. BTW


Stabiliteit en technieken: Snoek & Partners, Kortrijk


Furnibo N.V., Bedrijvenlaan 7, 8630 Veurne
technieken: Elvebo Energietechniek, 8755 Ruiselede
elektrotechniek: Installatiebedrijf Dewitte, 8930 Menen


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