Dating back to the 13th century, the structure was a Dominican church until Maastricht was invaded by Napoleon in 1794. Since then, it has been briefly used as a parish, then a warehouse, city archive, but it was also used for car shows, parking bicycles, flower exhibitions, and boxing matches and finally made over into a bookstore.
Led by architecture firm Merkx + Girod, the new installations are highlighted by a towering, three-story black steel book stack stretching up to the stone vaults. The highest shelves are reachable by lift or by a set of stairs within the sleek, well-made stack. At the back of the church customers and visitors can sit and admire the beautifully renovated 14th century ceiling frescoes, or chat over a cup of coffee in the café situated in the former choir. The design has won the Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize, and in 2008 The Guardian called it the “best bookstore in the world”.