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Sint-Franciscuskerk is half renovated for the gymnasium and dining hall of the Maristin District School |  Ostend

Sint-Franciscuskerk is half renovated for the gymnasium and dining hall of the Maristin District School | Ostend

OstendWork began on the renovation and division of St. Francis’ Church in Assisiëlaan in Ostend. One part will be kept as a chapel, and the other part will be used as a gymnasium and dining room for the OLVO Mariakerke Foundation.

OLVO Mariakerke’s Mariastin school district bursts at the seams. In September, 26 new children will start, and after the next holiday, another 8 will be added. There are currently 61 children in preschool and 24 students in first and second grade. The goal is to develop the school into a full-fledged neighborhood school where children can continue with lessons up to sixth grade. This is why the expansion was in order. In the first phase, the adjacent St. Francis Church will be divided into two parts. “Through this, we realize that a new gym and dining room is much larger for young children and students,” explains directors Robin Depuydt and Anne Vanhoff. “We’ve been looking for extra space for a while. Now the gym is the same size as a classroom and meals are served in a small space.”

In the middle of the church there will be an additional wall. “There will be a kitchen in part of the school. We can also expand a bit so that there are two more dressing rooms and a storage room. The large glass windows will be kept, but they will of course be protected with a net.” These works must be completed by November.

Sint-Fransiscuskerk church factory has begun work to divide the church into two parts, so that the school can expand © LBB

A guarantee for the church

The piece used by the church should also be ready in September. “The direction of the hall is turned a quarter of a turn and the altar is placed in the middle of the new wall,” says Andre Dikluidt, head of the church factory. Church Factory is pleased to participate in the school’s plans. “It is an opportunity for our neighborhood. For us it is to ensure that as a church we can stay here in this place. In addition, we have always played a social role in the neighborhood and will continue to do so. The new hall can also be used by associations, for example.”

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Subsequently, the other phases of the site masterplan will also be carried out: construction of a new front building with four new classrooms, offices and a teacher’s room and the renovation of the existing building to accommodate a new nursery. Subsequently, the sanitary facilities will be renovated and expanded, and the outdoor area will be designed as an active green playground with a covered playground and bike shed. “We are upgrading our Mariasteen site with this and providing additional space for new students. OLVO Mariakerke has four branches: in Duinhelmstraat, Rozenlaan, Lijsterbeslaan and Mariasteen in Assisiëlaan. Together under the wings of the Bewonderwijs school community,” explains Hilde Veulemans.