In the bustling square of Dordrecht, De Witt emerges as a beacon of culture and entertainment, marrying the allure of cinema with the richness of culinary delights. This transformation, executed by Studio Modijefsky, has revitalised a once dilapidated space, previously known as The Movies, into a vibrant destination that pays homage to its historical roots while serving as a modern-day cultural hub opposite the Kunstkerk.

Studio Modijefsky’s design narrative intricately weaves the building’s storied past into its present, drawing from its former lives as a convent, school, and laboratory to craft a visual tapestry that resonates with timeless elegance. Iconic motifs from its history – such as the convent’s cloisters and habits, the school’s tiled corridors, and the laboratory’s chemistry sets – are reimagined in a design that also celebrates the silver screen’s old-school glamour.

Central to De Witt’s identity is its adherence to the ‘Dordtse kleuren’, Dordrecht’s official colour palette, a testament to the city’s pride and heritage. This choice not only anchors De Witt in its local context but also elevates it as a symbol of Dordrecht’s vibrant cultural landscape.


Upon entering De Witt, visitors are greeted by a grand entrance crafted by Lugten Malschaert Architects. This new main entrance ushers in natural light, setting the stage for an immersive journey into cinematic and culinary excellence. The ground floor has been reimagined into a spacious brasserie, where the removal of walls and an elevator has allowed for a fluid, light-filled space. Here, the design elements pay tribute to the building’s multifaceted history, from school-inspired windows and tiles to laboratory-reminiscent custom lighting.

The brasserie’s elevation in two areas adds a dynamic play of heights, offering unique perspectives and inviting the city’s pulse into its heart. The integration of historical references, such as the wimple-shaped window frames and the school-inspired seating arrangements, blends with modern design elements to create a space that is both nostalgic and forward-looking.

The dramatic bar at the brasserie’s core serves as a theatrical centrepiece, with its curtain-like waves and spotlighted cocktails, encapsulating the essence of performance and presentation. This area, along with the entire brasserie, is a harmonious blend of form and function, where design and culinary artistry meet.

Ascending to the upper levels, the excitement builds with custom-made movie poster boards and a film lounge that extends the cinematic theme. The upstairs bar and ticketing area mirror the design language of the ground floor, maintaining a cohesive aesthetic throughout the establishment. The introduction of a new balcony overlooking a wildflower garden offers a serene retreat, further enriching the De Witt experience.

De Witt’s multifunctional event room caps off the venue’s offerings, designed to accommodate a range of activities from poetry recitals to dance performances. This space, with its velvet curtains and planet-like hanging lights, epitomizes the venue’s commitment to versatility and creativity.

De Witt stands as a testament to the transformative power of design, where history and modernity converge to create a space that is not just a building but a living narrative. It invites the people of Dordrecht and beyond to partake in a celebration of food, film, and the arts, marking a new chapter in the city’s cultural journey.

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Publisher of Hospitality and Leisure News, 365 Retail, Retail Source and organiser of the Creative Retail Awards.