There's nothing better than curling up with a good book, but when you've got a spectacular space to take in all that prose, the experience can be just as enlightening as the words on your page. Being the bookworms that we are, we've searched high and low for the world's most incredible bookstores and libraries. Read on for our top 7 stunning picks - from an old church cathedral transformed into a stunning space stacked with books to an archaic theater revamped into a stage for modern and classic literature!
Originally built in 1294, this church was renovated by architecture firm Merkx + Girod as a “brand new” bookstore in the heart of Maastricht. A superb example of adaptive re-use, the Selexyz Dominicanen infuses rich and historic architecture with plentiful shelves ripe with information.
The El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires is one of the most spectacular bookstores in the world. Located in the heart of the posh Recoleta bario of the city, the former theater was revamped by architect Fernando Manzone and converted into a shop. Many of incredible architectural details remain, such as the red curtains and the wall sconces. The stage also now hosts a small cafe.
What began as 1,000 empty beer cartons was quickly pulled together by residents in East Germany into an incredible open air public library. Designed by Karo Architekten, the grassroots project located in Magdeburg, provides residents with a place to congregate, as well as borrow books from the pop-up library which is open 24 hours a day.
Westbury-sub-Mendip’s 24-hour phone booth library was a local resident’s solution to the disappearance of the town’s weekly mobile library. Conceived a way to pay tribute to Britain’s iconic phone booth while satiating the curious minds of the township, the classic red booth was recycled into what has now become one of the country’s smallest libraries.
Conceived to help support local Dutch schools that lack the funds or space for a library, this splendid double decker BiebBus can pull in, pop up, and help rev up kids’ imaginations.With a transparent floor, cool lights, and huge portals for kids to see out, the BiebBus gets kids clamoring with excitement when it comes time to visit the library.
Located in NYC, Van Alen Books specializes in both architecture and design books. To give their space an edge reflective of the ideas within, the bookstore commissioned Inhabitat favorite LOT-EK to design their storefront. LOT-EK created an interesting green design, using recycled doors to make a long, layered staircase in the center of the space. The steps also provide seating and more shelf space.
Located in East London, the Greenhouse Bookstore is a special space that encourages readers to check out a wide collection of limited edition photography monographs, books on contemporary art, design, fashion, advertising and cooking, and a selection of international magazines. The repurposed greenhouse was set on a lush lawn between bulbs and bamboos, and is kept warm and cozy during winter with a wood burning stove for year-round enjoyment.