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Location : Spijkenisse, The Netherlands

Year : 2003-2012

Client: Gemeente Spijkenisse

Program : 9.300 m2 library and public facilities, including a chess club and environmental education center, as well as retail space and offices

Budget: EUR 10 Million


Nomination, Mies van der Rohe Award for Contemporary European
Architecture 2013 , Barcelona, Spain

Dutch Wood Award 2012, Bronze


The Library is open until at least 16:00 every day, with a free tour at 14:30 on Thursdays.

Address: Market 40, 3201 CZ Spijkenisse, The Netherlands

Website:  Tel: 0181-616622


This new Library for Spijkenisse is designed as an advertisement for reading, its visibility and inviting presence holding great significance for a community with a 10 percent illiteracy rate. Through its glass facade the books are visible from all sides, and from the adjacent town square it appears as a mountain of books. Underneath the monumental envelope the books life span is shortened not by sunlight, but by the wear and tear of borrowing. Located in the centre of Spijkenisse, the 9.300m2 library takes pride of place on the market square, facing the historic village church. In addition to the library the building houses an environmental education centre, a chess club, an auditorium, meeting rooms, commercial offices and retail space. The pitched roof refers back to traditional Dutch farmhouses, a reminder of the new town’s agricultural past which has been erased by 40 years of expansion.

To accommodate the additional functions required, commercial space and parking form the podium on which the pyramid is built. More specific areas such as the auditorium and seminar rooms form the tiers of the pyramid, with library areas occupying terraces above so as to take advantage of the light and space provided by the glass roof. These book platforms are connected via wide flights of stairs and together form a continuous route of 480 meters around the mountain, reaching to its peak, where a café offers panoramic views over the Spijkenisse. In order to visually connect the building to its historic context, and distinguish clearly between the commercial and public programmes, a ‘blanket’ of brick is laid over the neighbourhood and the library’s pyramidal heart, even covering floors, cielings and doors. Above this, the public realm extends to the top of the mountain. Higher book shelves which are out of reach visually distinguish and literally divide the library’s archive and borrowing collections.
Another reference to the town’s agricultural past lies in the library’s bookshelves. Made of recycled flowerpots the shelves are sustainable, affordable and even firepoof, and provide a functional background for the books by forming banisters, parapets, and information desk and a bar. They form another element in the building’s palette of recycled materials: brick, wood and glass. Sophisticated heating and cooling systems further distinguish the library as a benchmark of sustainable design.


Competition Phase:  

Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries

Marc Joubert, Anet Schurink, Bart Spee, Jeroen Zuidgeest, Fokke Moerel, Stefan de Koning and Kai Kanafani and Ole Schröder

Design & Construction Phase:  

Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries

Fokke Moerel, Marc Joubert, Anet Schurink, Stefan de Koning, Marin Kulas, Anton Wubben and Sybren Boomsma



Contractor: VORM Building, Dordrecht
Co-Architect : Studio Bouwhaven, Barendrecht, The Netherlands
Construction : ARCADIS, Rotterdam, (housing and parking)

ABT, Velp, The Netherlands (library)
Services Advisor : DGMR, Arnhem, The Netherlands (competition phase)

ARCADIS, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (design & construction phase)
Building Physics / Sound and Acoustics Advisor: DGMR, Arnhem, The Netherlands

Glazing : Brakel Atmos, Uden, The Netherlands


More info

Taking the form of mountain of books on the town''s market square, Spijkenisse’s new library is both an advertisement and an invitation for reading. Stacking the buildings various functions produces its pyramidal form, which in turn, is wrapped in  480 meters of bookshelves and reading spaces. The building is a benchmark of sustainable technologies.The adjacent Library Quarter consisting of 42 social housing units, parking and public spaces was also designed by MVRDV.