In Douai, the Carmel was rehabilitated by Perrissin & Sailly Architectes

In Douai, the Carmel was rehabilitated by Perrissin & Sailly Architectes

Carmel Douai rehabilitation
@Perrissin & Sailly Architects

In the heart of Douai (North), for Habitat et Humanisme Nord-Pas-de-Calais, the agency Perrissin & Sailly Architectes (Damien Perrissin and Benoit Sailly) has delivered a historic building housing the convent of the Carmelite Sisters for more than 100 years of Les Jardins du Carmel, a residence Intergenerational project consisting of 37 residential units. A report from the project owner.

the story

In 1625, the Carmelite Sisters settled in Douai when the city belonged to the Spanish Netherlands. The community developed and then dispersed in 1792 in the context of the French Revolution. A few decades later, new Carmelites established themselves in Douai, but in the mid-19th century, the community was expropriated from its place of life to build the station.

Following this expropriation, the Carmel of Douai was built, and the nuns settled there in 1847. Half a century later, the congregation was again evicted from the building and the building was sold by the state. In 1923, the nuns returned to the place thanks to the support of a benefactor who bought the convent. Finally, almost 100 years later, in 2015, fewer in number and older, the Sisters finally prepared to join another community of Hospitaller Sisters in Saint-Amand-les-Houx where they continued their life of prayer.

The Sisters have lived in the heart of Douai for nearly 400 years, including a century within Carmel. Their presence was discreet, and many residents of Duwais knew only the Carmel bell tower that marked the hour of daily Mass and had long called to prayer.

Carmel rehabilitation
@Perrissin & Sailly Architects

Rehabilitation project

A place steeped in history and dear to the people of Douaih, Carmel Douaih will not remain silent and empty of its residents for long. In fact, the sisters decided to entrust the building to Bernard Defert, founding president of Habitat and Humanity, which would eventually be acquired by EHD (Entreprendre pour Humaniser la Dépendance), one of the movement’s real estate companies. .

It was decided to respect the spirit of Carmel to make it a place of welcoming, social and communal living through an intergenerational residence of 37 residential units. The process architect, Perrissin & Sailly Architectes, seeks to preserve the ancient walls; Corridors will also connect the accommodations together, and the monastery will remain as it was before: a place of passage where parents, children, young people and the elderly meet.

The Carmelite site (6,773 square metres) includes the monastery, five houses and a partly wooded park. The real estate operation consists of the rehabilitation of the old Carmel area into 37 residential units ranging from T2 to T3 (from 44 sqm to 72 sqm), with common areas. This high-quality project takes into account the structural constraints of the old Carmel, meets the architectural requirements of the ABF and applicable standards (in particular PMR) and integrates the heritage of the building’s past life.

Carmel rehabilitation
@Perrissin & Sailly Architects
Douai North
@Perrissin & Sailly Architects

work time

In 2021, the roof, doors and windows were dismantled, the walls and ceilings were raised, reinforced and rebuilt so that the future housing meets standards of comfort, insulation and accessibility.

At the beginning of 2022, structural works gave way to finishing works. Little by little, Carmel regained its look and feel, modernized and adapted, open to its new message, ready to receive the families, young people and elderly people it now targets. The long-awaited installation of the Bell Tower symbolizes the birth of this place steeped in history.

Among the various communal spaces planned, the Common Room is special because it will be located in the heart of the old church, the axis of Carmel. The church, decorated with stained glass, was a sign of the religious life existing in the building. Despite their poor condition, the stained glass windows were dismantled at the beginning of the work and restored by Judith DeBruyn, the master glassmaker, accompanied by her husband, Frank Pilot.

Douai North
@Perrissin & Sailly Architects

Like the pinnacles, the stained glass windows of the old church will be able to return to their original position, as witnesses to the past life of the Carmel of Douai, not in the windows of the old church, but inside the passage spaces, subject to supervision, protection and lighting to highlight them.

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