Hidden Belgium: A utopian library

Hidden Belgium: A utopian library

Aalst’s stunning city library opened in 2018 in an abandoned corner of the old industrial city. The name recalls Aalst printer Dirk Martens’ role in bringing out the first edition of Thomas More’s Utopia.

Designed by Dutch firm Kaan architecten, the library incorporates three concrete levels that appear to float above the atrium, along with wood bookshelves that rise through the floors and illuminated images from Martens’ 1516 edition of Utopia.

The complex embraces a former 19th-century military cadet school now occupied by an academy of performing arts. You might spot a student playing a violin or a dance performance in a rehearsal space.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.


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