De Krook is the City of Ghent’s public library, a building that is both isolated and yet integrated into the urban fabric. Despite its central position, it occupies a site that was all but inaccessible until the construction of the building and layout of the public space. The library is imposing yet finds its place within the surroundings. De Krook stands on a low bank in the bend of the River Muinkschelde, and the angles of the building follow the line of the water. Thanks to the new pedestrian bridges, access routes and passageways, the renovation of the ‘winter circus’ and renewal of the nearby buildings, the library has become a focal point in the city. It is a new pole and a ‘crowd-puller’. The is a building stacked in layers and thus makes reference to the former harbour and industrial activities on the river. The views, colours and lights of the city stream into the building. Large staircases and vertical voids across several floors break the pronounced horizontal thrust. De Krook unites the new public library and the Imec-Mict-Ugent centre for digital innovation in a single building. This sows the seed for a sort of ‘living laboratory’ for the city. The building’s metal structure is a visible presence at all points, with a level of finish that is extremely controlled and sober. De Krook is a major new component in an urban district with a high concentration of libraries, archives and museum collections.
This project is published in Flanders Architectural Review N°13. This Is a Mustard Factory