Friday, December 9, 2011


Ready for this? I wasn't, and I nearly died.

Merkx Girod. Netherlands. Already amazing, right?

Inside an 800 year old Dominican church as a new bookstore. Yes, bookstore.
Designed by Amsterdam based architects, Merkx-Girod, the challenge was set to create 1200 square meters of retail space out of 750 square meters of floor space.
Using the massive ceiling height, a huge steel structure was erected, turning the space into a multi level library-style store.
Symmetry was acheived with low-slug tables housing best sellers on the ground floor, and a small cafe towards the back to enjoy your new purchase with a hot cup of tea.

From the architects website:

In Maastricht, the location demanded a completely different approach; the development of 1.200 m2 shopping space in an available area of 750 m2 floor space. The client’s original idea was to bridge the area, however the architects rejected this idea as it would disprove the architectural quality of the church’ space. Instead, they wanted to emphasize the building’s height and exceptional architecture.

The solution is a multi-level, monumental, black, walk-in bookcase situated asymmetrically in the church. In this way the left hand side of the church retains the complete height whilst on the right, visitors are directed to the upper levels of this steel ‘book-flat’. Climbing the bookcase has been made fun: visitors walk between the books and once they reach the upper level, they are able to experience the colossal dimensions of the church and view the historical murals from close-by.

The bookcase is a grand gesture, a statement that matches the monumental dimensions of the church and gives the an extra dimension. Due to the passage ways, perspectives and the use of perforated steel, the flat appears to be light and transparent in spite of its size. The object neither imposes on the space nor clashes with the church’s architecture; it enhances its experience.

The project won the 2007 Lensvelt de Architect interior design award and was recently announced ‘probably the most beautiful bookstore in the world’ by the Guardian.

~All Images via Merkx-Girod

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