Selexyz Dominicanen, an 800-year-old church-turned-bookshop in the Netherlands city of Maastricht, was constructed in 1294 and, according to bookshop manager Ton Harmes, derelict since 1796 when the French revolutionary army dispersed the clergy to stable their horses.
Another revolutionary conversion took place in 2002 when the Amsterdam-based bookshop chain Selexyz – with a tradition of bookshops in historical buildings – commissioned architects Merkx+Girod to transform the church into a bibliophile’s paradise.
Three gallery levels with 25,000 titles now soar heavenward. Browsers can view newly uncovered mediaeval frescoes on the gothic ceiling and, at the crucifix-shaped cafe tables on the former altar, today’s biblio-idolaters now sip, chat, laugh, flirt and read.
Bedside reading Build-On: Converted Architecture and Transformed Buildings by Lukas Feireiss , includes the conversion of Selexyz Dominicanen.
Brian Turner for The Sydney Morning Herald