When designing the book tower, Van de Velde paid much attention to the incidence of light. The manuscript room, for instance, was oriented northwards and the north side of the tower is also the only side where the light falls directly on to the books. To the east and west, the light falls onto the side panels of the bookshelves and to the south, the light is shaded by the staircase and the elevator.
With respect to proper preservation of cultural heritage or what is to become part of that, however, this is not good enough. That is why architects Robbrecht & Daem proposed to apply the box-in-box principle, as was done for the Felix archive.
Testing such climate box requires an emptied floor. That means a location needed to be found for the 1.5 km of books, as well as lots of hands to move them.
But thanks to the team's meticulous preparations – they had carefully considered every step to be taken - and to a long chain of hands formed by enthusiastic repository personnel , the floor was cleared rapidly and smoothly. The collection was moved down from the 19th floor to the basement ànd made accessible in less than 4 days! That is 44 meter of books per hour... Not even professional movers could have done better than that....
However, it would be a mistake to assume that it will be possible to move the entire collection of 48 km of books at the same pace. The books will need to be dusted and stored acid free, and that will take time and... lots of hands.