A Bookstore and Library in a Church

by Anna Blanch on March 15, 2012

So earlier this week I shared some images of some very old libraries in churches. I haven’t shared many libraries lately, so i thought i’d give you a double whammy this week and share a modern take on the library in the church situation!

Built in the 13th century, this stunning building was a Dominican church until Maastricht was invaded by Napoleon in 1794 and the Dominicans were forced into exile. Since then the church has been used as a parish, a warehouse space, an archive, and a bicycle shed (not kidding) and now, a beautiful bookstore and library.

Led by architecture firm Merkx + Girod, the new installations are highlighted by a towering, three-storey black steel book stack stretching up to the stone vaults. The highest shelves are reachable by lift or by a set of stairs within the sleek, well-made stack. The views provided from the top shelf along the nave of the church are nothing short of uplifting.

In a feat of beautiful design, the makeover has won the Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize, and in 2008 The Guardian called it the “best bookstore in the world.” I still have a soft spot for Powell’s in Oregon…so i’ll reserve my judgment on the best bookstore in the world claim..

In any case, at the back of the church customers and visitors can stare up at the  beautifully renovated 14th century ceiling frescoes, or enjoy a cup of coffee in the café situated in the former choir loft.The bookstore offers a nod to its former uses through the cross-shaped reading table where anyone can sit and flip through the magazines and newspapers kept in the slats of the table.

Source: Merkx + Girod Via Crossroads Magazine and Inhabit.com

Related posts:

Previous post:

Next post: