library design

Rotterdam-based studio MVRDV have completed the Book Mountain and Library Quarter Spijkenisse.

The project is a literal advertisement and invitation for reading, was opened by Prinses Laurentien of the Netherlands on October 4th, 2012.

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Project Description:

Manifesting itself clearly as a mountain of books on the towns market square, it is both an advertisement and an invitation for reading. Clever stacking of the buildings commercial functions produces its pyramidal form, which in turn, is wrapped in the libraries 480 meters route along bookshelves. Underneath the libraries barn shaped glass envelope the book gains a strong educational presence in this formerly agricultural community located close the docks of the Port of Rotterdam. The adjacent Library Quarter consisting of 42 social housing units, parking and public space is also a project by MVRDV, together with the Book Mountain it forms an exemplary eco-neighbourhood.

The library is designed as an advert for reading, its visible presence and invitation holding great significance for a community with 10 percent illiteracy. From underneath the glass dome the library is visible from all sides, especially from the adjacent market square where the library appears as one big book mountain. Underneath its monumental glass envelope damage to the books by sunlight is off-set by their normal 4 year life-span due to wear and tear from borrowing.

Located in the centre of Spijkenisse, the library with a total surface area of 9.300m2 sits on the market square next to the historical village church. Besides the library the building houses the environmental education centre, a chess club, auditorium, meeting rooms, commercial offices and retail. The exterior of the library refers in shape and materiality to the traditional Dutch Farm, a reminder of the towns agricultural past, which has grown from farming village to Ville Nouvelle in the past 40 years.

The library had to accommodate a number of other partly commercial functions. The stacking of this non-library programme forms a pyramidal base on which platforms are projected, housing the libraries bookshelves and shaping a powerful symbol. The book platforms are connected via wide stairs and together form a continuous route of 480 meters around the mountain to its peak where a café offers panoramic views over this Dutch Newtown.

In order to connect the former village centre visually and distinguish clearly between commercial and library programme, a ‘blanket’ of brick is laid over the neighbourhood and the libraries pyramidal heart. The Library sits on top of this with its floors, walls, ceilings and even doors made of the same brick. This consequent materialisation supports the public status of the library by communicating clearly the difference: behind the glass hood a library is visible, behind the brick sits the rest of the program.

Another reference to the towns agricultural past lies in the libraries bookshelves. Made of recycled flowerpots these elements are simultaneously fireproof and economic and provide a perfect background to the books and accompany the visitors through the building by taking on the functions of banister, parapet, information desk and bar. They form another element in the building’s palette of brick, glass and wood: recycled materials. Book shelves out of reach play an important visual role, housing the libraries archive.

Following the maximum permitted volume the Book Mountain is covered by a barn shaped glass envelope with wooden trusses resulting in a transparent almost open air library. Underneath the glass is a public space without air conditioning. In summer natural ventilation and sun screens result in a comfortable indoor climate, in winter under-floor heating and double glazing maintain a stable interior environment. The climate system is based on an innovative combination of proven technology such as underground heat and cold storage, natural ventilation and many other interventions. The award winning invisible integrated technology was developed by Arcadis in collaboration with MVRDV.

The new public library is part of a larger plan to strengthen and intensify the town centre. MVRDV have also designed the neighbouring development of 42 houses for a local housing corporation. The apartments inside the plan vary strongly in size, from studio apartments to housing fit for large families, attracting a more diverse urban population. A folly-like tilted house is the centre of the ensemble of abstract traditional typologies: contemporary reference instead of nostalgic replica. Housing and library share a common materiality, public space and environmental technology. In terms of identity the project resembles an out of scale farm, at the same time referring to, and becoming, a monument to the agricultural past of Spijkenisse, and its growth towards a city. On the new market square the outlines of buildings demolished during the 1960’s mark the old centre which has been turned now into a new village centre for a growing town, not nostalgic yet respecting the history.

The development of Book Mountain and the Library Quarter is currently translated into literature: titled “Make Some Noise”, later this year a mix between literature and photo novel will be published by 010/NAi Publishers describing the almost ten years it took to realise the building.
Facts Book Mountain and Library Quarter Spijkenisse:

Total budget incl. parking € 30 million
Start project: 2003
Start construction: May 2009
Opening: October 2012

9300 m2 total surface 
Public part library: 3500 m2
Environmental education centre: 112 m2 
Chess club: 140 m2 
Back office library: 370 m2 
Retail: 839 m2
Commercial offices: 510 m2

Length book shelves: 
3205 m total
1565 m for lending
1640 m archive
Amount of books: currently 70.000 and space for another 80.000
The cover is 26 m tall and spans 33,5 m x 47 m

Parking garage with grey water basin and 350 spaces


[via designboom]


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