Utopia – Library & Academy for Performing Arts, Pupillensite

Aalst, Belgium
Autonoom Gemeentebedrijf Stadsontwikkeling Aalst (AGSA)
8.500 sqm
Project Team, Photos & Collaborators
Bas Barendse, Tjerk de Boer, Sebastiaan Buitenhuis, Sebastian van Damme, Paolo Faleschini, Raluca Firicel, Narine Gyulkhasyan, Joost Harteveld, Kees Kaan, Martina Margini, Giuseppe Mazzaglia, Vincent Panhuysen, Kevin Park, Giulia Rapizza, Dikkie Scipio

Visualisation: EdiT and KAAN Architecten

The new Municipal Library and Academy for Performing Arts Utopia is situated on the corner of Oude Graanmarkt and Esplanadestraat in Aalst. The plan is functionally driven, so it achieves a sense of spatial freedom that enriches the experience of the building. The so-called Pupillenschool, with its historical grandeur, has a presence that anchors the new complex. Using this structure as the ‘cornerstone’ supports integration in the existing urban fabric and in the hearts of local residents. The irregular street pattern of the historic centre of Aalst was a source of inspiration and forms the foundation for the new complex. At various points the streets converge erratically, leaving small open spaces – tiny public squares that dot the old city centre. By inserting a rectangular edifice loosely against the back and part of the side of the Pupillenschool, Aalst has gained two more of such small public squares: one serving as the entrance area for the complex and the other as terrace to the reading café.