St Josephkerk_Photo: Ino Roëll_Stadsarchief

St Joseph_Photo: Ino Roëll_Stadsarchief


Last week Johan Cavé, the founder of Mountain Network, invited us to his spectacular climbing venue “Tussen Hemel En Aarde”.

THEA, which translates as “in-between heaven and earth”, is constructed inside a former church that went ‘out of business’. Secularization and cultural shifts in the neighborhood caused the ‘downfall’ of the congregation. The St. Josephkerk was designed in 1941 by architects G.H.M Holt and K.P. Tholens and, since it was controversial, only realized in 1950. The building, that features elegant panels of natural stone in concrete framing had a capacity of 1100 people! The design was inspired by the early Christian basilica but was conceived in modern materials. It was the first church in the Netherlands that deployed concrete. In 1996 Hans Zandvliet turned the orthogonal masterpiece into a ‘cave’.

THEA, features 1200m2 of climbing wall with a maximum height of 13 meters and a total of 150 routes that vary in level from 3 to 8c. It is the place to be for both starters and for pros.

The St. Joseph was lucky to survive. Only recently a similar beauty, the Pius X by architect Jan van de Laan, was demolished. A evil act by a housing corporation and an alderman. May the Pagans burn in hell.

We got in touch with Johan Cavé when we were looking for someone that would be interested in running a climbing facility in Dordrecht. We proposed to ‘program’ the facade of a sports complex with a sculptural climbing wall for indoor and outdoor use. After winning the competition the client couldn’t find the right entrepreneur. So, if we still wanted to make our proposal work we actually had to contact potential organizations by ourselves. That is how we got in touch with the club that at that time went by the name of CAVE (brightly called after the owner!) Since then we’ve been in a rollercoaster ride together. After numerous versions of the ‘Sports Palace’, the building is finally under construction. And in better shape than ever! Right now we are feverish since we are involved in a competition for the decommissioned Silos of a former water treatment plant in Amsterdam. The cylinders can become the next level in indoor climbing. The winner will be announced mid April.






One Response to “CLIFFHANGER”

  1. Rory Says:

    What an amazing recycling of such a hardcore old church! Looking forward to seeing your ‘palace’. And great to meet you yesterday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: