The Role of the Interior Architect in Projects of Re-Use of Monuments to Retail-Functions: Selexyz Bookshops as Case Study

By Bie Plevoets and Koenraad Van Cleempoel.

Published by The Design Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In many European historic city centres monuments currently are being re-used for retail functions. In general, a rehabilitation project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between developers, urban planners, architects and conservators. Often, interior architects only are involved in the project afterwards and do not participate in the conceptual phase. Nevertheless they can have an important input in the concept of the rehabilitation of the historic building, particularly when the new function concerns a retail function.

Two examples in the Netherlands of bookshops that are designed in historic buildings - Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht and Selexyz Verwijs in The Hague - are examined. There is a significant difference in quality between the two projects. For the project in Maastricht there was an extensive collaboration between restoration architects, interior restorers, interior architects and various other parties. This collaboration is reflected in the advanced quality of the restoration of the historic building on the one hand and the harmonious combination with the contemporary interior of the bookshop, on the other hand. In The Hague, there was hardly any communication between the interior architects and the restorers. Consequently, the whole of the project was of a lower quality.

A closer collaboration between interior architects and other parties should become a general behaviour when dealing with rehabilitation of monuments as retail functions. As interior architect my Ph.D. project - about the tensile area between retail and heritage - will partly address this issue.

Keywords: Interior Design, Conservation, Reuse, Rehabilitation, Monument

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.133-142. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.373MB).

Bie Plevoets

Doctoral Candidate, Research Group ArcK, Department of Architecture and Visual Arts, PHL University College and Hasselt University, Hasselt, Belgium

Bie Plevoets studied interior architecture in the PHL University College in Belgium. After she graduated, she followed a master after master in Conservation of Monuments and Sites at the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation (KULeuven). Today Bie Plevoets is doing a PhD at the PHL University College and Hasselt University about the tensile area between heritage and retail development in historic cities in Europe.

Dr. Koenraad Van Cleempoel

Professor, department of Architecturen, Art and Design, PHL University College and Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium

Koenraad Van Cleempoel supervises this Ph.D. research and is establishing a retail research center at the department of interior architecture at the university college of the Hasselt University (Belgium).


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