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By Geert Roels, 2021, license CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0


The Northern Link

Passage takes place here: of staff, of visitors, but also of books and journals that went back and forth between the depot and various reading rooms.

By Geert Roels, 2021, license CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0

In the elongated northern corridor, the clean line and harmony of materials is striking: Belgian marble, black steel profiles, chrome locks. Pure volumes predominate in a modernist feel. Daylight is drawn in through light panels in the ceiling.

Originally, van de Velde had provided rubber floors, which were softer to walk on. But the Second World War made the supply of materials from the colony impossible. Small specks of gold reveal that the marble alternative has become the St-Anne petit mélange from a meanwhile abandoned career away from Dinant.

Passage took place here: of staff, of visitors, but also of books and journals that went back and forth on wooden carts between the depot and the various reading rooms. Newspapers and student journals were displayed on the counter of the cloakroom. The walls were used to hang framed pieces. The photos that Carl De Keyzer [link to page of artwork] made in 1997 on the occasion of the library’s bicentenary, among others, have graced this Passage.

Offices are located on the street side, and the reading and work rooms for the special collections are located at the end of the corridor. East of the Passage is the Tower itself.

ca. 1950

Public passage

The Passage also had a public function. Small exhibitions took place there, which presented the collection and which taught the library public something. At the end – just in front of the Workspace for Special Collections – the Passage was crowned by a fully-fledged exhibition and reception area, adjacent to the Rozier.

In the 1960s, this exhibition space had to give way. It was repurposed as the Chief Librarian’s Office, the only office in the Boekentoren to have marble floors as a result. The restoration by Robbrecht and Daem architects has now completely reopened it and given it a new cultural function.

Former Exhibition Room

By Walter de Mulder, ca. 1950, license CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0

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