Adaptive (re)development of a former monastery with a long-term economic viability and opening-up the monument by hosting education and housing functions.
The reason for redevelopment of the monastery is linked to the increasing secularization, that is a worldwide phenomenon, in turn leading to questions about adaptive reuse of religious heritage. Since much of (former) religious buildings can be a burden on a city and space is limited within the urban environment, the municipality looked at the possibility to maintain the building, while repurposing it to current needs. By accommodating a graduate school in the building, combined with student housing, the education function that was linked to the monastery in its heyday has returned to the inner city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. By repurposing the building, current needs (student housing and education in data science) have been accommodated. In this way, the project not only profits the investor, but helps to revitalise a part of the city by bringing in students, increases social security by adding “extra eyes” to the area and maintains an iconic building for future generations. In this case, several stakeholders can be identified: the former congregation, who wanted to sell the building, the investor that bought the building and financed the redevelopment, both Tilburg and Eindhoven University, that are “knowledge partners” in charge of education and the municipalities of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven and Tilburg for the combined (student) housing solution. The redevelopment of Mariënburg itself has been added to policy documents, such as urban plans and the cities heritage vision.

Resources needed

Exploitation and ownership is in hands of private parties. In this way, the financial risk of this project for the municipality is mitigated. A total of appr. 60 million euros was needed for the project.

Evidence of success

Redevelopment of the monastery had an strong impact on safeguarding the monument, preserving a significant building, as well as bringing out (hidden) historical elements as terrazzo floors and sculpted ceilings. Since the monastery complex is now hosting a graduate school and housing facilities for 160 students, new heating systems and better isolation had to be installed reducing the environmental impact of the building. It is an impulse for the city exploitation through (heritage) tourism.

Difficulties encountered

The redevelopment of Mariënburg needed to be added to policy documents, such as urban plans and the cities heritage vision.

Potential for learning or transfer

1. Repurposing religious heritage to current needs
2. Restoring built heritage values
3. Opening up a former closed-off area of the city for exploitation through (heritage) tourism
The project focusses on urban rejuvenation through repurposing a former religious stronghold to fit the current needs of city and education institutions. By having both ownership and exploitation done by private parties, the financial risks are mitigated, while safeguarding the (visible) heritage values of the cityscape. This type of redevelopment of oblique religious heritage can be exported, both locally and in the Netherlands, as well as worldwide. The only consideration with transferring this aspect is the different ways religion and religious heritage is viewed; this will likely lead to different forms of repurposing.

Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.

Main institution
Start Date
January 2015
End Date


Marieke  Muilwijk Please login to contact the author.