Reading enthusiasts in Spijkenisse, the Netherlands can climb spiraling towers of terraced bookcases beneath a shimmering glass pyramid to find new printed treasures. Architecture firm MVRDV has completed ‘Book Mountain’, a public library that flouts the conventional wisdom of keeping books in the dark.
Believing that the exposure to sunlight is offset by library books’ four-year life span due to wear and tear, MVRDV placed row after row of books in a stacked configuration protected by a glass envelope that lets sunlight come streaming in.
In a nod to the town’s agricultural past, the exterior of the structure was designed to mimic the look of traditional Dutch farmhouses, down to the false chimney poking out of the roof. MVRDV also designed the adjacent Library Quarter, which contains housing units, parking and public space.
Says MVRDV, “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.”
“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.”