Book Mountain opens in Netherlands

Almost ten years after the project began, a new public library described as “a magnificent shop window for knowledge, information and culture that unambiguously promotes the idea of reading day and night” has been officially opened at Spijkenisse, near the major port city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Book Mountain, as the five-storey building designed by the leading architects MVRDV is called, features a huge glass-and-timber outer shell that is home to a tiered, pyramid-like structure with thousands of books stacked on shelves that snake around the outside of its brick walls.

Although the 30 million euro (US$39 million) project, which includes a small housing quarter of 42 units and a parking lot, started in 2003, construction did not actually begin until May 2009. Designed to be a beacon for accessibility of literature and information, the new public library was recently nominated for the Dutch National Wood Award 2012.

As soon as visitors to Book Mountain step through the front entrance, a ground floor of commercial outlets greets them.  To the left as one enters are some wide stairs that lead to a first floor featuring a children’s education centre and chess club.  The walkway flows on up to the next level of office units, and then onto an auditorium one floor up.  The fourth floor hosts a café to stop and rest before climbing to the summit for reading tables and a panoramic view of Spijkenisse. Each floor can also be accessed by elevator.

There is a fair amount of shelving for storing the building’s collection of 70,000 books.  But in a break away from the familiar maze of aisles, it is the outer walls of the central concrete, steel and brick structure and the barriers edging the terrace walkways that support this building’s collection.  Some 3,205 metres [10,515 ft.] in total length, the visually arresting racks are made of recycled plastic and designed so that titles available for lending are placed within easy reach, and archived collections can be stored above.
The building is able to rely on a combination of automatic sunscreens, shading plants and a dry cooler for its temperature and climate control.

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