The best place in the world to buy Phaidon books?

Zwolle's 15th century Dominican Broerenkerk, or Church of the Brothers, is reborn as a great new book store
Waanders in de Broeren bookshop by BK Architecten
Waanders in de Broeren bookshop by BK Architecten

Nothing makes the heart soar like a fabulous new bookshop and Waanders in de Broeren is just that. The dynamic, well-stocked shop has been built within a 15th century Dominican church. The lofty Broerenkerk, or Church of Brothers, in the city of Zwolle, was converted earlier this year for the Dutch publishing firm, Waanders, by young Utrecht practice BK Architecten.

Partners Jos Burger and Wouter Keijzer already have a handful of sleek modern retail spaces to their name, but this project pushes them into a loftier league. Their 700m-sq conversion is cunning in that all the walls are false, and the new shelving, flooring and ceilings can be removed easily if need be. Behind and between the pillars they’ve installed three floors housing books and a café with stairways linking them in front of the high windows.


Waanders in de Broeren bookshop by BK Architecten
Waanders in de Broeren bookshop by BK Architecten

All these interventions are simple and in plain colours, while the church’s original features such as the organ pipes and the murals have been restored. To bring in a warm light for customers, Norwegian artist Kjell Nupen has designed modern stained glass windows. The nave is mostly empty, with a few dark-hued, free-standing merchandising units, so that concerts and other events can take place there.

To add to the theatre of the space, Waanders – whose founder JMW Waanders opened his first bookshop in 1836 – has worked in some great extras around its displays. Cookbooks are stacked up with fine wines and nibbles, travel books are sold next to appropriate accessories, art books sit with design items, and children’s literature is interspersed with toys and games.


Waanders in de Broeren bookshop by BK Architecten
Waanders in de Broeren bookshop by BK Architecten

This conversion follows on from Dutch architects Merkx + Girod’s transformation of a Maastricht Dominican church into the bookshop Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen. One more reinvention of this type, and Holland will have set a new trend.

To find out more about this conversion, go here. For greater insight into the art of the Dominican church, buy a copy of our Fra Angelico book, the most celebrated religious painter of the early Italian Renaissance. For more on the way we build today, consider The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture. And for greater understanding of Dutch design consider our book, False Flat.

You May Also Like



Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
Read more