Library Schoten

Architect: DMT architecten
Client: Gemeente Schoten
Advisors: Tecon (techniques)
Location: Schoten
Surface: 1.743 m²
Timing: 1999 - 2017
Budget: € 2.454.000
Status: realized

© interior: Marie Jeanne Smets, Schulz Benelux
© exterior: Roel Hendrickx

Project Support I Collaboration

Restoration of the library designed by Renaat Braem. 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 severely criticise the dogmas of modernism.

The building has a plastic-brutalist look. Spaces, internal walls and façade surfaces are part of a continuously flowing composition that radiates dynamism and strength. The plan structure is radically open, all public functions are spatially connected. The gallery around the central hall guarantees intensive contact with the ground floor. These intentions are nourished by the use of rough materials: exposed brickwork, exposed concrete, heavy metal carpentry. Braem designed all the furniture in Oregon, the spiral staircase in afzelia.

In the restoration dossier, many building-physical problems had to be examined, resulting in the development of specific details in favour of the complex design and building materials. The domes in particular required a lot of attention. The standards of fire prevention also led to architectural interventions, especially in the technical infrastructure with regard to climate control. Most of these interventions were integrated invisibly.

The problematic accessibility for disabled persons is solved, among other things, by replacing a spiral staircase with a glazed lift with a view of a work of art in its place of origin.

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

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

Bureau Bouwtechniek is responsible for the construction-technical support of the DMT architects' office and is responsible for drawing up the architectural specifications, estimating and managing the site.

Team BB: ilze De Backer