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.
Photos by: Wim Ruigrok
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