Goes Library: bringing people and ideas together

, 31 Aug 2021

The soon-to-be-opened new library of Goes, situated on the peninsula of South Beveland in the Dutch province Zeeland, is a versatile Third Place where everyone can find something to do. Its interior reflects the regional country life and invites you to discover the enriching library program and to simply enjoy time well spent in one of the numerous cocoons or at the café-like indoor terrace.

All good things take time. Sometimes a decade goes by before the seeds of a great idea or a much-needed change blossom into reality. This was the case for the development process of the new library in Goes, a branch of Bibliotheek Oosterschelde. Back in 2011, the library – based at the Oostwal in Goes – was looking for relocation options. And so the architecture agency Silo Shapes, nowadays known as aatvos, was asked to conduct feasibility studies exploring future housing options. It took ten years of preparations, interspersed with longer break periods, and the sale of the old location before the library organization arrived at the eve of the move to the new premises at the Kolveniershof. In the meantime, the aatvos team organized rebranding sessions with the library team and stakeholders, inspirational tours, new feasibility studies, user investigations, and a design workshop.

“It took a while before the library found its perfect new location. What makes this project extra special, however, is that all these years one thing has remained unchanged: Both the library management and the local politicians strongly believed in the role that the library could play in the social fabric of the city. Together we rebranded the library into a genuine Third Place: an instrument for urban renewal and improved socialization. This has been the final destination since the beginning,” Creative Director Aat Vos underlines.

Libraries have a commitment to inclusiveness like no other, and this is reflected in the interior of Goes Library.

Aat Vos Aat Vos Creative Director at aatvos 

Jannie van Vugt, Director of Bibliotheek Oosterschelde adds: ”The route to the new library was long and full of obstacles. But the extensive preliminary process provided a strong policy foundation under the final result. The building is the ultimate tool to fulfill our promise to the city of Goes. The Library occupies a central position in the cultural, social and educational network of the city. It brings the residents of Goes together. The professionalism of the staff of Oosterschelde Library, combined with the strength of the local community, enrich the (inner) city.

Commitment to inclusiveness: Goes goes the extra mile 

The library’s new home is located next to the city’s theater, creating a concentration of cultural functions in the center. The new library changed its position from the first floor to the ground floor. This helped reach the target of becoming an urban loop, a new cultural center of gravity in the city’s pedestrian logistics. Aat Vos continues, “We wanted to  reposition the library as a revitalizing boost for civic life.” To ensure the success of a new Third Place as much as possible, several criteria must be met, including factors like the venue having low-threshold access, visibility, usability, safety, comfort, and a hospitable experience. 

In terms of comfort for its visitors, Goes Library truly goes the extra mile. “Next to those crucial standards, we added a dash of informality. The library needs to become a place that you visit for ‘time well spent’ instead of ‘time well saved’. Libraries have a commitment to inclusiveness like no other, and this is reflected in the interior. Just as people are unique individuals, the interior is a mix of moods, shapes, styles, forms, space and order, look and feel. This vast spectrum of characteristics aims to satisfy the needs of patrons’ different characters. This library welcomes everyone: the young, the old, people with disabilities, regulars, day-trippers, tourists, bookworms, newspaper aficionados, children, freelancers, market-goers, cyclists, friends, students, schoolchildren, shoppers, 3D creators, printers, collaborators, you name it,” describes Aat Vos.

Crawl and creep through the library

The library of Goes encourages people to enrich themselves in the library and the “crawl and creep” interior style activates you to do so. To highlight Goes’ country life a typical Zeeland barnhouse made of reclaimed wood – within an abstract of Goes’ city skyline –  is the centerpiece of the interior. It holds a variety of functions, such as a community table, enclosed workshop and a meeting room, a café with an indoor terrace and an amphitheater stage, working stations, a chill area, and restrooms. A welcoming bar combines service and coffee. Other highlights are the kids’ amphibian crawl area, a maker-space with its own kitchen, numerous cocoons with individual identities, living rooms, and study niches.

The library may be very versatile with something for everyone, but not to worry – you won’t get lost. The “city light” signage helps visitors find their way. Thus, a visit to the library in Goes will soon be a valuable experience for everyone. Just a little more time to wait for the opening (promise)! 


Strategy, Design, Art-Direction: aatvos (team: Aat Vos, Jasper Poortvliet, Tessa Wennink)
Contractor: Stonepark
Barn experience: 20Tree
Photography: Marco Heyda/aatvos

To ensure seamless integration of digital communications into the interior design, we partnered with www.digitectuur.nl.