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The the new Mechelen library, housed in a former monastery offers an air of Christian scholasticism , Source: Het Predikheren - Bibliotheek Mechelen on Facebook

17th-century cathedral in Belgium becomes hip cultural centre

17th-century cathedral in Belgium becomes hip cultural centre

The Flemish government has decided to invest 4 million euros into developing Mechelen’s cultural campus, based around a gothic cathedral and monastery

Last Wednesday, the Belgian city of Mechelen announced it will receive an investment of 4 million euros for local cultural infrastructure. The investment was put up by the Flemish Government and the bulk of the money will go towards renovating the 17th century Het Predikheren Cathedral, turning it into a multi-purpose cultural centre.

The other portion of the budget will go towards renovations in the adjacent monastery and courtyard, where the city moved its library back in 2019. The courtyard will become the home of a ‘cultural square', an open air-space for a wholesome cultural campus.

The project is set to finish in 2024, and the campus will get a unique archway, marking the entrance to the special space.

A movable interior

The Cathedral will be completely refurbished and will feature a movable auditorium, that will be perfectly suited for intimate events like theatre, concerts and corporate events. While the project calls for many of the architectural staples, such as the arches and columns to remain in place, it also features movable panels that will give curators the opportunity to shift and shape the space according to the needs.

The cobblestone floor will be partially preserved as city officials want to give the central hall a wooden floor to make way for the church to be used as a dance hall - something Mechelen currently lacks. On the other hand, the mezzanine floor will function as a balcony for any performances taking place in the central hall, while also being a reading room and an extension of the library.

The site of the old library

Meanwhile, according to a report by VRT, the site of the old city library will be transformed into 22 affordable housing units, while the building of the library’s caretaker will become a street site business venue hosting the first urban vegetable garden in Mechelen.

Reportedly, city authorities have said they are looking for someone to lease the space and create a sustainable business that makes use of the vegetable garden, which will also be the responsibility of the new tenant.

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