Public Library

Public Library

Architect
MVSA Architects

concrete
Location
Almere, Netherlands | View Map
Project Year
2009
Category
Libraries
Stories By
MVSA Architects

concrete
Jeroen Musch

Public Library

MVSA Architects as Architects

Block 3 in Almere’s new city centre includes the public library, thirty owner-occupied flats, ground-floor shop units and spare capacity for the library. As long as this spare capacity remains unused, it will be let to service providers.


The block has a triangular ground plan and consists of two sections: (1) a triangular four-storey base containing the shops, the library and the spare capacity, and (2) a rectangular five-storey block of flats rising from the south-east corner.


The block is sculptural in form, with angled asymmetrical façades, recesses and cavities. As seen from above it has a hole in the centre, with an enclosed open-air garden separating the shops, the library and the spare capacity. There is no front or back to the building in the traditional sense — each façade is autonomous. With its apex projecting onto Stadhuisplein and its tall (eight-metre) entrance, the building is a striking piece of architecture and urban design and a prominent feature of the cityscape.


OMA designed the heart of the new city centre on two levels, an architectural device that serves to separate shoppers from other traffic. Beneath the sloping level is a second level for other road users, with features including separate bus and car lanes and ample parking space for cars, suppliers’ vehicles and bicycles.


Block 3 is on the edge of one of the slopes on the angled upper level. This level slopes from north to south, with a 6-metre change in height up to the angle. The increase in height within Block 3, from the north to the south façade, is 4.2 metres. This means that the various changes in height have been compensated for and resolved within the building. The solutions are visually reflected in the interior of the building as well as its façades.

the new library Almere

concrete as Architects

The challenge was to design all public spaces within the new public library in Almere. The building was designed by Meyer en van Schooten Architects. The overall design scope consisted of 5000m1 linear meters of bookshelves and accompanying facilities: counters, internet areas, a read café, study areas and a multimedia department. At the request of the client we contributed to the development of the shop-concept: a commercial approach, instead of a standard library positioning and structure, where books are presented to a ‘customer’ and where the library itself becomes a place to stay; more like a modern retail concept. A typical library and significant retail concepts case-studies were extensively analysed on structure, target groups and the experience-factor. The outcome of the research has led to the foundation of the design. Within the new library shop-concept the books are arranged according to different shops instead of numbers. Each section has a lifestyle-orientated space (youth, culture, health, travel, etc…) where books are frontally presented combined with openness.


Because of this the run shopper can find his product directly, while the fun shopper can wander through the landscape of books, explore the different worlds and discover places to sit back and browse through the pages. Meandering bookcases organise the landscape and create an adventurous environment of different identities. The bookcases are built with 1 straight and 5 curve modules. The additional functions are integrated into the bookcases, such as seating, workplaces, info terminals, counters, couches and lighting. This creates the unity and peace in a full library. The news café is situated in the corner of the building on the second floor, above the entrance. The news café is provided with hundreds of magazines and newspapers, including a circular bar with monitors presenting the latest news. The game and multimedia department is situated on the fourth floor above the news café, in a similar circular shape where monitors present the games live. These screens are visible from the adjacent city square and make the new library more dynamic.

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