Posthumus Conference 2023 (University of Antwerp, 24-25 May)

Klooster van de Grauwzusters – Convent of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis

The ‘Grauwzusters’ [transl.: ‘Greyish sisters’]  got their nickname from the greyish habit these Sisters of the Third order of St. Francis used to wear. The Antwerp congregation was established in the 17th century because of the much needed care for victims of the plague. The current complex was built in 1887 and was designed by architect Frans Baeckelmans.

When the last of the sisters moved out of the convent in 1999, the Flemish government sought new use for this majestic building, on the condition the new user would us the building for societal purposes. This offered a unique opportunity for the University of Antwerp, at that moment in dire need for a suitable location in the city centre.

The facade of the convent has remained practically unaltered, as goes for the authentic intimacy of the interior. Architects Van Broeck and Meuwissen were assigned to create a new balance between the existing historical and current-day architecture.

The former open courtyard is now covered by a glass ceiling and offers a stylish location for receptions and other events. Alongside the patio cross vaulted corridors have been created by enclosing glass in high window arches. On the top corridor, you will find anthracite grey logs covered with bright red cushions. Even further up, you will find the conference rooms, decorated with a wooden roofing structure.

The basement of the former convent have been transformed into a state-of-the-art auditorium (Promotiezaal) and additional catering rooms. The original chapel, now deconsecrated, has been restored to its original state and now serves as a conference and concert hall.

For some impressions, see the photos on the website