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Historic church of Obergum, Groningen, The Netherlands


The Saint Nicholas Chapel, also known as the church of Obergum, is the very first monumental church to be owned by the Foundation SOGK. The Foundation owns today in total 86 churches dispersed all over the Groningen province in the north of the Netherlands.
The church of Obergum is a Romanesque church dating back from the 13th century and is situated on the highest part of a terp, in the town of Winsum, in the north part of the Netherlands. The building built in the first half of the thirteenth century, has a single ship closed on the east side with a three-sided choir (apse). On the west side there is a tower with a saddle roof. In the 15th century the church was extended to the east. This extension can be seen today by a vertical recline in the north and the south walls. The 18th century pointed arched windows were at this time enlarged and are visibly much larger than the round arched windows in the older part.
At the same time, the choir got a three-sided gothic closure with once-cut support beams. The top of the walls are provided with a saw teeth framing decoration. The 14th-century tower, originally detached from the church building and later connected to the church contains remains of a dome vault and a 17th century clockwork.
The church is owned by the SOGK since 1969, which carried out a deep restoration following later that year. The restoration was carried out under the direction of Olsmeyer architectural firm from the city of Groningen between 1970-1971, which had a major impact on the interior mostly. Almost the entire furniture, which was renewed in the 18th century, disappeared as well as the 19th century additions. The pulpit, dating back to 1780, is the only piece of furniture that has survived the clean –up rage. The wooden carved work of the panels was mainly lost (except for the front panel), as well as the beret shield on the back wall, due mainly to neglect during the restoration. The style of the furniture is best described as a late form of rococo with a transition to Louis 16th style.
Obergum is nowadays, part of the town Winsum (province of Groningen, Netherlands) that lies north of the Winsumerdiep river. Originally, it was a separate village. Today, both villages are bonded together and are one of the Dutch protected village views (as defined in the Dutch Monuments and Historic Buildings Act).
Because the building has lost its initial church function more than 50 years ago, the main usage nowadays consists of rental of the building for events such as: weddings; official municipal events; concerts; etc.
The foundation is not only interested in keeping this monumental church in a good condition but also the promotion of its (possible) use represents one of their main goals.
A future transformation of the building is also planned.​

Main objectives:

  • Developing BIM and inspection software for historical buildings;
  • Constructing a BIM model of historic church buildings taking (laser) measurements to complement drawings from the archive;
  • Elaboration of building inspection / condition assessment protocols and maintenance guidelines for CH buildings in general;


Prof. Roberto di Giulio
University of Ferrara, Italy
T his project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020
research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 665220.