Amsterdam Van der Pek library

06 Apr 2017

Amsterdam van der Pek neighborhood is home to a small building that has transitioned from a butcher shop with apartments, to a supermarket, and finally to a library that inspires the area’s residents. How could such an adorable public library branch manage to claim its own significance for the area?

OBA Van der Pek Aatvos

An iconic look as the foundation of identity

As one of the many remodeling projects of the Openbare Bibliotheken Amsterdam (OBA, Public Libraries of Amsterdam), a new library was to be introduced at the Mosveld shopping center, in the Van der Pek neighborhood of North Amsterdam. This building embarked on a transition to a public space that focused on inclusion. The aim was to create a library that people enjoy being in, one that invites neighbors to meet each other and patrons to exchange knowledge and learn from one another; the library wanted to be a third place for all. This idea of inclusion was best implemented by bringing value to the building, and pride to the people.

This idea of inclusion was best implemented by bringing value to the building, and pride to the people.

Aat Vos

Creative Guide

The soon-to-be library would be found in an iconic building that was constructed in the style of the Amsterdamse School, a type of architecture that is based on elements such as curves and verticality, all while playing poetically with bricks to bring pride, power and beauty to the people. This building already had a locally inspired exterior that was radiating a clear identity, the challenge was to make the interior accomplish this, too. The limited available area inside the building meant that space had to used effectively. Multifunctionality could be found for example in the library’s only counter, which acted as an information book as well as an espresso bar.

A recognizable identity for all

By adding the opportunity for a coffee break, value was added to the space as it became more than just a library. With multiple levels and a rooftop terrace, the building had the potential to become not only a fun area to hang out in, but also a comfortable and intimate space. Wooden elements and warm and relaxed colors including browns, reds and greys created a homelike atmosphere. The interior design had to amplify the small space’s features. However, we had to be careful so as not to waste any space in this petite building. Instead of smothering the interior with large props or furniture, we prioritized small elements that made a statement; their main goal was to give patrons a reason to stay by getting them curious and inspired. This building itself created an identity with an iconic look that managed to instill pride in the local people.

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