Het interieur van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België door de Kortrijkse Kunstwerkstede De Coene. Markante getuige van een wijzigende visie rond representatie

Hannes Pieters
When the Belgian government decided to build a new Royal Library in the heart of Brussels, named the Albertine Library after King Albert I, they wanted to create a new powerful symbol for the Belgian nation. For this reason, the Albertine was to be realized together with a global redevelopment of the slope between Brussels' lower and upper town: the so-called Mont des Arts/Kunstberg. Within the urban layout of this new Mont des Arts, a design by the architect Jules Ghobert (1881-1974), the
more » ... ssive new national library got a prominent position along the new main square. The monumental design of the Royal Library itself was conceived by Maurice Houyoux (1903- 1960) during the late 1930s and early 1940s, but because of the Second World War, disputes between the architects involved and problems with both the City of Brussels and the administrative body for the underground north-south railroad junction, execution of the plans encountered severe delays and it was not until 1954, almost two decades later, that the project gained momentum and construction started. Because of this long realization process, the finished library complex today shows a remarkable shift in the way the representative aspect of the building was conceived in different decades in the 20th century. Whereas the architects gradually made less references to a classical form vocabulary, the biggest shift took place in the interior project, a design by the Kortrijkse Kunstwerkstede Gebroeders De Coene (the Courtrai Art Workshops De Coene Brothers). Rather than creating an overwhelming classical monumental interior space, De Coene designed a modern looking contemporary interior, in line with the progressive image that the Belgian government wished to identify itself with. At the same time, the De Coene's design unit translated the 'royal' aspect of the institution by means of a tasteful, lavish and top-quality finishing touch and decoration of the reading rooms, offices and hallways. By focussing on the way the interior project was gradually realize [...]
doi:10.7480/knob.111.2012.4.354 fatcat:urejynl26vempfg3qni7tk43oy