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City library The Predikheren

Together with Korteknie Stuhlmacher architects and Callebaut architects, we were responsible for the renovation and repurposing of the Preacher's Convent into a contemporary city library.
Nominated for title of 'best library in the world'
  • Architect: Korteknie Stuhlmacher architects (Rotterdam) i.c.w. Callebaut architects and Bureau Bouwtechniek

  • Client: City of Mechelen

  • Surface: 6.000 m²

  • Budget: € 22.000.000

  • Timing: 2011 - 2019

  • Status: Executed

  • Photographer: Luuk Kramer - Sarah Blee

  • Advisors: ABT (stability), Studiebureau Macobo (EPB, VC), RCR (techniques)

  • Label O Eprijs winnaar 3740 3740 1
  • Label O Eprijs publieksprijs 3741 3741 1
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Construction of a contemporary library in baroque walls

The Predikherenklooster in Mechelen, built in the 17th century, has been empty since 1975. Together with the new Holocaust Museum, the Kaserne Dossin and the new Tinel Park, the impressive ruin is part of the Tinel site, an ambitious development area on the edge of the city centre.

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BB 2367 mechelen 15022016 1931

The monumental building will be restored in four subsequent phases and given a new purpose as a public library and meeting place for the inhabitants of the city of Mechelen.

Phase 0: protection and conservation works
Phase A/B: monastery and monastery wall: roof and facade restoration
Phase C: rezoning, restoration and fitting out of the preacher's cloister
Phase D: church: roof, facade and interior works

Restoration and architectural interventions

The character of the protected monastery and church building as a special ruin is fully respected and serves as the starting point for the restoration and layout as an urban library. All restorative and new architectural interventions are aimed at maximum preservation of historical material and keeping the various historical time layers legible, while respecting valuable existing fragments, spatiality, and authentic atmosphere of the building.

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Energy-efficient heritage

Protected built heritage, architectural heritage and architecturally, culturally or aesthetically valuable buildings always present professionals with a tough challenge when renovating: how to make such buildings energy efficient?


Focusing on energy efficiency in monuments requires a well-considered approach in which energy-saving measures are best dosed and deployed in accordance with the tangible and intangible heritage values.

Our restoration expert Bert Van den Bergh puts it as follows: "In addition to preserving valuable historical profiling and dimensions, the historical material must be preserved, accessible for maintenance and inspectable. A monument benefits first and foremost from a permanent use in line with its original use, the building and its heritage significance. These are essentially all complementary requirements towards sustainability."

The Predikheren wins ARC19 Interior Award

Brussels housewarming 569 A7997 Aangepast

"Ecclesiastes is a model project for us. The restoration vision where we preserve the ruinous state is conceptually very innovative and at the same time technically and socially very challenging." Says Gert Biebauw, project manager of the renovation of The Ecclesiastical House.

You can read the full conversation between the architects and the Flemish Architecture Institute via the link below.

lees meer
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Coordinating architect

After the preliminary design study, it was decided in consultation with the city and the subsidising authorities to divide the project into four phases. The subsidy agreement stipulates that one phase must be put out to tender each year. As a result, the different phases will be carried out interchangeably.

In a preparatory phase, we generated the administrative, structural, organisational, planning and financial information for the project. Based on this information, we drew up a detailed process schedule with realistic timing and clear task allocation for each phase. We monitored the intended result, budget and timing.

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Executive architect

Together with the architect, we form a complementary team. We guide the architect and the design team from concept development onwards. During the project phase, we assume a mainly advisory role. From the tender phase onwards, we act as coordinator of the interdisciplinary team of internal and external specialists.

Once the foundations of the project have been laid, we study the technical and financial possibilities in consultation with the project team to develop a number of scenarios. This phase is accompanied by a technical feasibility study that identifies the impact on other disciplines, schedule and budget. We wrote the technical specifications, the specifications and led the bid analysis. On execution, we represent the team and lead the technical monitoring of the site.

Festive opening of The Predikheren
Mechthild Stuhlmacher and her team managed to preserve the soul and character of the building. The beauty of the decay is inspiring and attracts. We have noticed an increase in the number of library visitors since the opening of Het Predikheren and they also stay longer on average. Meeting is therefore central in Het Predikheren, but there is also room for silence and intimacy. Class to be able to design and create such versatility.
Cultuurschepen Björn Siffer

Get to know the project team

From Team Architecture (private sector Antwerp, Limburg, Flemish Brabant and Brussels) (4)

Gert 569 A0619 Gemiddeld

ir. arch. Gert Biebauw

Project architect
Financial director
E-mail |
Mark Gemiddeld

arch. Mark Sette

E-mail |
Gretel De Smet

ir. arch. Gretel De Smet

Project architect
E-mail |
Kathleen 569 A3540 Gemiddeld

arch. Kathleen Rens

Project architect
E-mail |

From Team Renovation, Restoration & Maintenance (1)

Bert 569 A0759 Gemiddeld

arch. Bert Van den Bergh

Project architect
Advisor renovation & restoration
E-mail |

From Team Computer Aided Design & BIM (1)

Glenn choice 719925

Glenn Verdyck

Technical designer
BIM modeller
E-mail |
TAGS: Executive architect| Coordinating architect| Heritage| Reconversion