13th Century Church Gets New Life as a Bookstore

This Dominican church in Maastrich Netherlands was built in 1294, but when Napoleon pushed the order out in the 18th century, the church fell into disuse. In 2007, the Dutch chain Seleyx hired Merkx + Girod to convert it into a bookstore. Rather than break up the vertical space with multiple floors, a three story “bookcase” takes up half of the church’s footprint. The building’s 8,000 square feet becomes more than 12,000 square feet of floorspace, maintaining the impressive scale of the church, while also making it feel modern.

A coffee bar and eating area with a cross-shaped table keep the store from being just a showroom, and the perforated black steel of the scalable bookcase prevents the massive structure from dominating the space. The result combines the old with the new to stunning, simple effect.

[UPDATE: We found another amazing repurposed one; this one a movie theatre turned into a bookstore]

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