Korteknie Stuhlmacher Architects grew from an agency with projects of initially limited scale to more public clients. Their initial core values remain paramount: “We make buildings with character. Buildings for people. Timeless and linked with nature, with spatiality and usability. We make buildings to love. For a long time”, they say.

It is that generosity that is so characteristic of their architecture. Their projects start with research: researching the place, the history, the materiality, the complexity. An exemplary example of this is one of their most recent projects realised here in Flanders: the Predikheren in Mechelen. They restored and converted the ruins of the Predikheren monastery into the new city library of Mechelen. What had been a city cancer for decades was transformed into one of the most generous places in Mechelen for its users. It is situated a stone's throw away from the museum on Holocaust and Human Rights. Surrounded by the new Tinelpark, designed by OMGEVING, the Predikheren became one of Mechelen’s beating hearts next to the Dijle.

The eventual project was born out of the architects' visit to the site: a ruin like one of Tim Burton's horror tales or Edgar Allen Poe's books: barren spaces, rubble, light working its way through a wilderness. But there was more, the attic turned out to be a wonderful space, almost as if "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (C.S. Lewis) had been brought to life: a Gothic attic with sharp rays of light cutting through it. Korteknie Stuhlmacher was the only one who suggested leaving the church empty: an empty area that can be used as a public space. Again a gesture of generosity. They unexpectedly moved the actual library to the attic: by means of the zones "near", "middle" and "deep", the library became a place to enjoy the silence. Several spots are offered to visitors : work spaces, monastery library, hangout areas, a café, a restaurant, a children's room with a reading place under the centuries-old beams.

The Predikheren became a place to wander and to discover, in search for a place of your own. A journey through hundreds of years of history that have been left exposed and where the new furniture form a kind of couloir. A place to visit for your own enjoyment, a place where you could stay forever.

The Rotterdam architecture firm has realised numerous other projects in Flanders, such as the Freinet primary schools in Lille and Herentals, the CADIX campus in Antwerp, with many more to come.

The Rotterdam-based
Korteknie Stuhlmacher Architects was founded in 2001. Both Rien Korteknie and Mechtild Stuhlmacher graduated from Delft University of Technology and worked for Mecanoo, Zeintra van der Pol, Maccreanor Lavington Architects, David Chipperfield Architects and others.

PARTNERS: STUK Kunstencentrum, KU Leuven dep. architectuur, Existenz / SUPPORT: City of Leuven, Flemish Government / SPONSORING: Febelcem, ASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems, Vandersanden Group, A+ Architecture in Belgium


Thu 5 Mar 2020 20:00 - 21:30


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