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A former military school has been transformed into a modern city library and performing arts academy

By using raw concrete, light walls and roof, the building is turned into a relaxing haven for the residents of the Flemish city of Aalst in Belgium. 

This new cultural hub and architectural landmark is called Utopia and is an 8.000 square meters modern building. 

  • Outside, the building blends into the urban fabric through its unassuming red brick facade. Inside, it makes a bold architectural statement on the benefits of shared-space learning.
  • The library, rehearsal studios, auditoriums and teaching spaces are intimately connected by a patchwork of vast windows, often as high and wide as the rooms themselves. 
  • VELUX modular skylights have improved the indoor air quality and increased the reading and learning environment for the visitors of the building.

The openness of the building exudes sustainability, and the building has achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating.

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Products used in project

1 x Atrium Longlight

Atrium Longlight

Multiple rows of skylight modules that can be combined to create a large glass roof.

Illustration of Atrium/Longlight solution Read more

Quantity of modules: 64

Atrium Longlight

Multiple rows of skylight modules that can be combined to create a large glass roof.

Illustration of Atrium/Longlight solution Read more

Arnoud Van Der Straeten

Head of the library

Natural light is a determining factor for the atmosphere of the entire building.

Bas Barendse

KAAN Architecten

The large amount of natural daylight provides comfort and a nice atmosphere. Sunbeams fall beautifully on the bookshelves and on the inner façade of the old building, which in this way adds luster to the experience of the characteristic historical identity of the place.

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