The conversion of this particular 13th century cathedral into a modern bookstore has been popular since the project was completed back in 2007. I won the Lensvelt de Architect Interieurprijs and Bobby even posted about it five years ago.
So why bring it up now? Because we’re looking at church conversions this week. So far we’ve seen a church modified for living and a church modified for education so now it’s time to look at a church modified for commerce. This space just happens to be one of the most exemplary and recent realizations of this kind of conversion. The photos you see most often of the space are by Roos Aldershoff and are stunning. But videos of this project are kind of awful. The best video I could find of the space is this one, which is simply some guy wandering around making a recording with his digital camera.
The architects, Merkx + Girod, made several smart decisions about the space, even though the result is deceptively simple. Inside the nave of the cathedral, the architects inserted an off-center, three-story black metal bookshelf surrounding by walkways and traversed by stairs. And there’s also a humor about the project. Where the alter used to be, vistors sip coffee sitting around a table in the shape of a crucifix.