City library, the jewel in the crown of Mechelen


From being a Dominican convent around 1650, a shelter for the elderly poor, a hospital, a barracks and now Het Predikheren, the brand new city library of Mechelen and winner of the 2020 Prize for Immovable Heritage of the Flemish government.

Mechelen purchased the abandoned heritage site to restore it and give it a new lease of life in a bold and contemporary concept. The project has been an undeniable success. Historically, architecturally and socially. For instance, the site continues to exude its long history, unexpected restoration decisions were taken which, on the one hand, respect the various period layers over the centuries, and on the other hand, have added a subtle 21st century layer, while finally the building's function as the city library has been extended to become a cultural, educational and even gastronomic meeting place for neighbourhood, city and world.

Various zones together form the unique and dynamic location of Het Predikheren. Enter the library through the main entrance next to the church portal. The 18th century church, which is still awaiting renovation, remains empty to optimise the area for cultural activities. On the ground floor, a star chef spoils food lovers in the gastronomic restaurant, while those who prefer a quick bite can visit the coffee bar. Meetings, studying and co-working can all be done on the first floor, namely in the quiet old.

In August 2021, at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress, it was named one of the top five public libraries in the world.