Like so many church buildings in the Netherlands, the national monument Havenkerk (a.k.a. Sint Johannes de Doperkerk), dating from 1824, is in need of a new role. What’s special about the church is its location: right in the middle of the historical heart of Schiedam, situated along the main historic harbour and surrounded by museums, galleries, (film) theatres and shopping facilities. Moreover, it is situated within walking distance of the famous Schiedam giants: six gigantic windmills, where the malted grain needed for the Schiedam jenever industry used to be ground. The church is crammed with works of art, donated by Catholic Schiedam jenever patrons. Another favourable aspect for future exploitation lies in the surrounding real estate that has been acquired by the municipality, anticipating prospective opportunities for exploitation. More favourable factors can be added to the list, but we’re also aware of less favourable stories about Schiedam: the town tops the list of empty shops, it is rumoured to be poor and there are local government problems.
Havenkerk deserves a new future, and the route towards it should be realistic and impassioned at the same time. The right financier for the ensemble has not yet been found. The restoration (mainly the exterior) of this national monument, was completed in 2012.
The question concerning the future of the ensemble as a whole is becoming more urgent by the week. Communication and branding, elimination of prejudices and providing realistic information are crucial in this respect.
The municipality of Schiedam has requested SteenhuisMeurs to establish transformation guidelines for Havenkerk and the neighbouring premises at Lange Haven and Hoogstraat. These guidelines stipulate the essential values of the monument and the protected townscape, and set out how future adaptations (new development, transformation, redesign) should relate to these values. In addition, the reactivation of this unique Schiedam ensemble will be taken in hand, in cooperation with the municipality.