Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen

Realdania

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Case: De Nieuwe Bibliotheek, Almere

Introduction

De Nieuwe Bibliotheek in Almere is based on a new concept where the library is composed of a number of ‘specialist shops’ that appeal to different interests and areas, such as ‘youth’, ‘culture’, ‘travel’, ‘health’ etc.

The library contains the same functionalities as most other libraries: counters, Internet areas, a reading cafe, a specific multimedia area, reading and study cells. However, the main part of the library has been carefully designed following the same principle that is used for specialist shops: a clear profile targeted at interest segments. While the specialist shop concept is the overall principle, all parts of the library are tied together as a whole via the interior design and the decoration of the walls, which was carried out by graphic designer Thonik.

The decoration is also functional because it is linked to content and themes throughout the library. The decoration by the material group ‘Thrills’, for instance, is graphically rendered by means of high voltage masts.

The library focuses strongly on a stylish presentation of books and on reading, but it also emphasises the library's role as a study place and a learning place. Thus, the library does a lot to accommodate its customers: At the cafe, visitors can read newspapers and hundreds of magazines. The multimedia section is also a games centre, and it can be used for watching films. Books and other media are presented openly and proactively, displaying front covers. Often, a film is being shown on a screen. Linear bookcases are avoided wherever possible in favour of soft, curvy shapes.

The local context

Almere is a very young town – the first house was built here in 1976. The town became a municipality in 1984. The municipality now has 175,000 inhabitants, but in 2007, the town council decided to work towards a doubling of this number by 2030.

Almere is known for its groundbreaking role within urban development. It is one of Europe's fastest growing towns, partly characterised by a green profile, which includes the ‘Sun Island’ where an entire neighbourhood is heated by means of solar energy. The town has been planned rationally on a large scale and with a centre that is designed according to a master plan by Rem Koolhaas. As a part of the development efforts, the town has constructed ‘the new library’, an iconic, illuminated building. The building is triangular in shape and placed on a slope, with the glass-clad facade practically pushing itself outwards like a wedge, reaching into the town square. The interior design of the library is inspired by a shopping area with specialist shops.

The library in the city

The library is located on the central Town Hall Square opposite the town hall and with access from the square. However, it is also detached so that light can shine through the glass sections from three sides. The building contains both shops and flats in addition to the library, but the library seems to be present everywhere in the building when you look at it from the outside. The library is designed with the intention that a walk through the town can continue inside the library through 400 metres of library and shop landscape.

See the plan drawings here

18. Sep 2017 at. 14:02

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