BIB SCHOTEN 190730 Roel Hendrickx Foto01 4005

Library Schoten

Together with DMT architects, we restored the Braem library in Schoten.
  • Architect: DMT architecten

  • Client: Commune of Schoten

  • Surface: 1.743 m²

  • Budget: € 2.454.000

  • Timing: 1999 - 2017

  • Status: Executed

  • Photographer: Marie Jeanne Smets & Schulz Benelux (interior), Roel Hendrickx (exterior)

  • Advisors: Tecon (techniques)

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The library of Schoten is the youngest protected monument in Flanders. It is a striking example of the period in Renaat Braem's oeuvre during which he used a distinctly organic language of form, in the wake of movements that began to strongly criticise the dogmas of modernism.

The building looks plastic-brutalist. Spaces, interior walls and façade surfaces form part of a continuously flowing composition that radiates dynamism and power. The plan structure is radically open; all public functions are spatially interconnected. The gallery around the central hall guarantees intense contact with the ground floor. These intentions are fuelled by the use of rough materials: exposed brickwork, exposed concrete, heavy metal joinery. Braem designed the entire furniture in Oregon, while the spiral staircase was finished in afzelia.

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In the restoration case, many building physics problems had to be investigated, resulting in the development of specific details in function of the complex design and building materials. The domes in particular required a lot of attention. Fire prevention standards also led to architectural interventions, especially in the technical infrastructure regarding climate control. Most of these interventions were integrated invisibly.

Problematic accessibility for the disabled will be remedied, among other things, by replacing a spiral staircase with a glazed lift with a view of a work of art in the place of the initially intended work.

Shifting functions will free up spaces for the public. The original bookshelves will be retained, however, other furniture will be redesigned in relation to the architecture and taking into account evolved library-related technologies.

Floors and domes will be renewed, and the pond and fireplace corner, which had been squeezed due to lack of space, will be freed up again. This restoration will and will honour Renaat Braem's visionary endeavour.

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We provided structural engineering support to DMT's architects and took charge of the drafting of the architectural specifications, estimation and site management.

Get to know the project team

From Team Architecture (public sector Flanders) (1)

ILZE 9 6 23 569 A8885 Gemiddeld

arch. ilze De Backer

Project architect
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TAGS: Executive architect