by Katriane Hill in Architecture on Saturday 26 September 2009

Deep in the heart of the Dominican Republic lies an unusual bookstore, aptly named Selexyz Dominicanen. It is housed in Maastricht, in the bowels of an ancient church which was constructed in 1294. Since it’s interruption as a church (Napoleon invaded Maastricht in 1794 and forced the loyal parishioners out of the country), this beautiful church has seen use as a parish, warehouse, and most notably (and creatively), a large parking lot for bicycles.

The renovations, which took months to complete, were led by architecture firm Merkx + Girod, and include massive black steel bookshelves that are so high, to reach the top books, one must use a lift or the cleverly manufactured staircase that was built right in. And this church boasts the same comforts as any bookstore — a small cafe (now nestled in the church choir) and tables so one could pursue books — so it’s a wonder why if one lives in Maastricht, you’d shop anywhere else.