MyModernMet

The new store will preserve many of the 13th century church's most striking features.

A bookstore is something of a sacred place these days. The few independent outlets that remain are rare opportunities to retreat from the churning of the city and peruse an infinite number of worlds. It is no wonder that the vast library presents such an image of escape; its stores of scripts, represented by endless spines of books lined one after the other, suggests the suspension of time and a chance to retreat to places carved out by words and crafted in one’s mind.

Dutch book retailers Selexyz decided that there was no better place for their latest bookstore to occupy than a 13th century Dominican cathedral in Maastricth, Holland. According to MyModernMet, the architects at Merkx + Girod jumped on the opportunity to fuse the old with the new and created a design for Selexyz Dominicanen Maastricht that integrates a thoroughly modern bookstore within the preserved historic structure.

The cathedral’s soaring nave provided ample room for a minimally designed three-story bookshelf, a metal structure that spans down the long central space and offers a provocative contrast to Gothic stone. Additional low-lying tables and shelves flank the central structure, spilling into the aisles, buttressing the round piers, and lining segments of the church walls. The apse, furnished by a cross-shaped long table, houses a café and seating area for visitors to tuck into their books, almost recreating the original circulation of the building.

The architects were careful to use minimal lighting to preserve the integrity of the original space, which basks in the ethereal, faint glow of natural light during the day. This bookstore undoubtedly rivals the Apple store at Grand Central Terminal with its discreet takeover of a distinctive, existing space. But unlike the Apple Store, the architecture of Selexyz Dominicanen Maastricht definitely commands hushed indoor voices, we’re betting.

All images via MyModernMet.

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The Presidio Terrace neighborhood
    POV

    The Problem of Progressive Cities and the Property Tax

    The news that a posh San Francisco street was sold for delinquent taxes exposes the deeper issue with America’s local revenue system.

  2. "Gift Horse"—a skeletal sculpture of a horse by artist Hans Haacke—debuted on the Fourth Plinth in London's Trafalgar Square in 2015.
    Design

    What To Do With Baltimore's Empty Confederate Statue Plinths?

    Put them to work, Trafalgar Square style.

  3. POV

    Grenfell Was No Ordinary Accident

    The catastrophic fire that killed at least 80 in London was the inevitable byproduct of an ideology that vilified the poor.

  4. Times Square, 1970.
    Life

    The New York That Belonged to the City

    Hyper-gentrification turned renegade Manhattan into plasticine playground. Can the city find its soul again?

  5. Equity

    The Geography of Hate in the U.S.

    Where hate groups operate now.