In 1772, the Antwerp alderman Adrien van den Bogaert purchased a historic property in the center of the city and then hired architect Engelbert Baets to renovate the place. Of course, a toilet was in order. These were typically housed in dank closet rooms, but Bogaert had something a bit more grand in mind and being a bibliophile, he and Baets arrived at this classic solution, known today as the "Book Toilet." It is said that the Latin titles on the spines of the leather volumes actually told an erotic story and were thus burned off by monks who occupied the building in the century after Bogaert's death. Today, the entire Bogaert complex, which includes a massive ceiling painting and is known as the Hofkamer, is under restoration.
Mark Lamster is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. A contributing editor to Architectural Review, he is currently at work on his third book, a biography of the late architect Philip Johnson. Follow: @marklamster. More >>