AN Interior favorite Vincent Van Duysen converts an Antwerp convent into a boutique hotel

Nuns The Word

Famous for his minimalistic and at times Brutalist aesthetic, Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen espouses a refined yet textured design vocabulary. Whether developing a new product, interior, or full build-up architecture project, the creative polymath seeks out pure yet tactile materials that, combined together, can achieve a timeless quality. Beneath the surface, Van Duysen’s craft-led methodology allows him and his team to treat each new assignment with a tabula rasa approach; taking into account context, history, and the physical experience of the user. Considerations of durability, luminosity, and comfort are also crucial to his practice. Van Duysen’s highly-luxurious projects can be found in retail, hospitality, workspace, and private spaces throughout Belgium and Europe. A few are located in the United States.

August bar and restaurant are curated and envisioned by well-known chef Nick Bril of neighboring Michelin-star restaurant The Jane. (Robert Rieger)

With this new venture, Bril challenged himself to go beyond his signature style and has thought out an internationally inspired à la carte menu focusing on product, season and terroir. From breakfast until dinner, both hotel guests and local residents will find accessible yet creative dishes on the seasonal menu. (Robert Rieger)

Key aspects of Van Duysen’s approach are evident in the recently opened August hotel. The new boutique lodging emerges out of a former Augustinian convent in Antwerp, that once served as a military hospital. The architect’s holistic intervention pays homage to this history. The neoclassical complex of five buildings has been reimagined under his singular vision; carrying a similar color, material, and furnishing palette across all aspects of the project: Van Duysen’s first hotel.

At August, the eclectic creativity of the Flemish building styles throughout the centuries meets an understated soulful modernism, creating a perfect blend of both public and private space. (Robert Rieger)

A private guest library and several bookable meeting rooms wi, complete the stunning picture. In addition, the garden pavilion with bar and cozy sitting area can be rented out for private occasions. (Robert Rieger)

Located in the Belgian city’s lush Green Quarter, August features various amenities—a dedicated wellness area, open-air swimming pool, and secluded gardens re-fashioned by Wirtz International Landscape Architects. At the core of these various components is a central restaurant and bar volume that repurposes the function of an erstwhile hospital canteen. The August Resturant is run by Michelin star chef Nick Bril—of the wildly popular and nearby The Jane—and features a warm yet timeless design scheme that evokes the serenity of monastic life.

Restored tile floors are joined by double-height windows. Van Duysen collaborated with restoration architecture firm Callebaut Architects—recently in the new for its wild proposal to restore Notre Damme—to strike a careful balance between historical preservation and contemporary enhancement. Soft green wood, dark smoked oak, and white color-tones are framed by bold black accents. The use of Metalic elements helps achieve this juxtaposition. Restored moldings and doors play off of white marble details. With staff uniforms designed by top Flemish talent Christian Wijnants, all other accessories were developed by Van Duysen in collaboration with various luxury manufacturers: The Passe-Partout Porcelain tableware collection by Serax, furniture by Molteni & C and lighting by Flos.


Bespoke finishing is to be found in every element; from the hand-glazed bathroom tiles to the tailor-made iconic lighting, from custom-built furniture to the handwoven carpets. (Robert Rieger)

Due to the original building structure almost no room is quite alike, each having their intrinsic personal touches, like a centuries-old wooden ceiling, an inviting balcony overlooking the former Military Hospital site, or unspoiled chapel or courtyard garden views. (Robert Rieger)

“August is a place where you feel calm and at home without neglecting the fact that you are in a place that was sacred,” Vincent Van Duysen explains. “We have fully considered the past as being a beautiful gift to keep and reinterpret what we have in a modern way. August strokes all [of] the senses with the richness of its textures and objects that are in delicate harmony with its sacred soul.”

The former convent encapsulates 44 bespoke cloister-like rooms and suites. (Robert Rieger)

bathrooms feature walk-in shower and in some cases, stand-alone bathtubs. (Robert Rieger)