The historic Central Library of Ghent University, designed by Henry van de Velde in the 1930s, has been restored and transformed into a 21st century library. The project bears witness to Van de Velde's pioneering library concept: he separated storage from consultation, stacking the collection efficiently at different tower levels to create brightly lit, spacious reading rooms. The bold skin of exposed concrete - unusual for its time - and the elegant steel joinery accentuate Van de Velde's volumetric play of horizontal versus vertical.
This restoration project unites the University's ambitions to restore the listed building to its former glory, but also to make it a contemporary home for its many diverse users and its valuable collection. Integrating the physical demands of contemporary building within a conservation logic was a constant challenge and ambition within the study of this project.
'Boekentoren' is one of the 20 nominees for the first 'Architecture Prize Ghent'. A selection was made based on a longlist of more than 120 candidates. The winners will be announced on October 17 2021.
Robbrecht & Daem
B. Van der Wee Architects
Bureau d'Etudes Greisch
Program: public building
Date of design: March 2007
Date of completion: April 2021
Surface area: 20.000 m²
Construction cost: € 34.000.000
© Kristien Daem