Sunday, December 23, 2007
Whoever said that reading was a religious experience was right, especially when taking a visit to Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht, Netherlands.
Having just won the Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize 2007, this newest addition to the Selexyz book chain is well worth the visit to this Medievil city if you are ever in the area.
Erected inside a former 800 year old Dominican church, this bookstore is said to hold the largest stock of books in English in Maastricht, one of the oldest cities in the country.
It was always going to be a challenging task for Amsterdam based architects Merkx + Girod who designed the space, to stay true to the original character and charm of the church, whilst also achieving a desirable amount of commercial space (there was only an available floor area of 750 m2, with a proposed retail space of 1200 m2). Taking advantage of the massive ceiling, both have been achieved through the construction of a multi-storey steel structure which houses the majority of the books. This is one giant bookshelf, with stairs and elevators taking shoppers and visitors alike, up to the heavens (mind the pun), to roof of the church.
Thanks to The Cool Hunter
We have never been here before, but we have been here before.
To the left, the Wendy’s, like a gingerbread house from a child’s nightmare.
To the right, the Burger King, like a highway restroom that sells hamburgers. And everywhere, the billboards and neon, the strip malls and parking lots, urging us to look here, here, no here, drive up, drive thru and, remember, drive safely.
The gift of this column has taken the Times photographer Ángel Franco and Dan Barry to dots on the map wondrously distinct in look and feel. The snow-blown journey over the moonscape of the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota does not blur in mind with the snow-blown journey beside the rushing Rio Grande in New Mexico. The relatively short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge in California does not blend into the 24-mile drive across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana.
Quite often, though, the two find themselves forging through familiar and hideous commercial stretches that all but dare them to guess the state they are in. True, it can be comforting to know that up ahead there must be, there has to be, a Subway sandwich shop.
But why are these stretches almost uniformly ugly, so much so that most of us have conditioned ourselves not to notice?
Read the rest of Dan Barry's New York Times column: A Place Just Like Every Other Place. Only Not.
Watch the slideshow: This Land: Visual Pollution