KAAN Architecten designs municipal library in Aalst, Belgium

Kaan architecten designs municipal library in aalst, belgium
© EdiT, KAAN Architecten

The city council of the Flemish city of Aalst has commissioned KAAN Architecten to design their new library, a largely new complex in the city centre which will also house the Academy for Performing Arts. The complex, situated on the corner of Oude Graanmarkt and Esplanadestraat, will be completed in 2022 – a full century after the end of World War I.

The city requested: “A library for Aalst that will become an open and accessible place, a home for information, knowledge, culture and leisure opportunities.” Other, no less important stipulations included that the design by KAAN would be an impetus for the fulfilment of a vibrant city centre and a place where all of the different communities within Aalst can meet each other.

Kaan architecten designs municipal library in aalst, belgium
© EdiT, KAAN Architecten

The preliminary design, which won KAAN Architecten the commission, is a complex with lively, urban allure. Precisely because its plan is functionally driven, it achieves a sense of spatial freedom that enriches the experience of the building. The so-called Pupillenschool, with its grand presence and eventful history, is being used as a ‘cornerstone’ to anchor the new complex in the surrounding urban fabric and in the hearts of the people of Aalst.

Kaan architecten designs municipal library in aalst, belgium
© EdiT, KAAN Architecten

The irregular street pattern of the historic centre of Aalst was a source of inspiration and forms the foundation for the new complex. At various points the streets converge erratically, leaving small open spaces – tiny public squares that dot the old city centre. By inserting a rectangular edifice loosely against the back and part of the side of the Pupillenschool, Aalst has gained two more of such small public squares: one serving as the entrance area for the complex and the other as terrace to the reading café.

Kaan architecten designs municipal library in aalst, belgium
© EdiT, KAAN Architecten

The combination of a library and arts academy may not at first seem very logical. The performing arts involve movement and noise, while reading is a static and quiet activity. The blending of the two, however, is also infectious and gives greater impact to the idea of a meeting place. KAAN Architecten believes the combination sets them a challenge to design a building that lets each complement the other in an ideal way. Aalst dances, plays and reads – a motto that speaks to the imagination.

Kaan architecten designs municipal library in aalst, belgium
© EdiT, KAAN Architecten

The city has chosen to perform a public private partnership (ppp) for the municipal library by means of a Design & Build contract. This DB has been procured as one single entity to the private party of Groep Van Roey NV. Subsequently, Van Roey has configured a consortium for this very purpose of which KAAN Architecten is a member, next to ABT, Studiebureau R. Boydens NV, Util Structuurstudies and Dutch Light Pro.

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.
Aline Chahine
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today. Highlights Aline founded Architecture Lab in 2008 Lead editor of dan | dailyarchnews since 2019 Founded and Creative Director of DesignRaid Licensed architect with creative sales and marketing experience Experience As full-fledged architect, Aline's background involved a great deal of research that lead to the creation of Architecture Lab as an online database of exemplary design. Her experience snowballed into founding two architecture platforms, Architecture Lab and DesignRaid. Education Aline received USEK’s Master of Architecture in 2004 and BA in English from the University of Toronto
TITLE | Founder of Architecture Lab
About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it's shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aline | Follow her on LinkedIn

Leave a Comment