Book Mountain by MVRDV



Construction has begun on a public library designed by Dutch firm MRVDV in Spijkenissse, the Netherlands.


Alongside the book collection and reading areas, the building - referred to as Book Mountain - will include commercial space, offices, an auditorium, conference rooms, and exhibition spaces.


These facilities will be stacked vertically, creating brick-clad terraces where the book collection will be displayed.


The books will be clearly visible from the outside through the glass shell, which also affords views over the town as visitors ascend the staircases that link the terraces.


Completion is due for 2011.


Here's some more information from MVRDV:


Start construction MVRDV Book Mountain

Today the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the new Public Library for Spijkenissse, near Rottterdam took place. Completion of the building designed by MVRDV is scheduled for fall 2011. The new public library with a surface of 10,000 m² will be an example of energy efficiency and advertise reading through its design of a book mountain. The new public library with a surface of 10,000 m² will be located in the inner city of Spijkenisse, at the corner of a major throughway, the central market square and the church opposite. In addition to the book collection and reading areas, the library will accommodate commercial facilities, offices, an auditorium, conference rooms, and exhibition spaces.


The exterior of the building refers to a traditional Dutch barn style typology, in shape and choice of material; as a memento to the agricultural history of Spijkenisse Village, now a suburban area of Rotterdam with statistically a low average of readers. The library is designed to advertise reading. By stacking facilities such as offices, meeting rooms and auditorium vertically, terraces of different sizes emerge upon which the book shelves are positioned creating a grand book mountain. The terraces are linked by staircases to form a route that curves around the mountain to the top, where a panoramic view of Spijkenisse awaits.


The book mountain is covered by a glass shell, creating a bell jar, an open-air library. The bell jar is a simple membrane, an almost invisible envelope that softens the edges of the building. The bell jar is also a climate-controlled public space. Solar protection (as used in greenhouses), natural ventilation and an underground heat storage system provide for comfortable conditions all year round. The climate system is a carefully balanced collection of sustainable features which together form an innovative new, highly sustainable system. Underneath the transparent bell jar, the library faces the streets on all sides, which enhances the safety of the public space around the building. The climate system was developed in close collaboration with Arcadis Engineers and was last year nominated for De Vernufteling award, declaring the library an inventive and resourceful project with social and economical importance.


The new public library is part of a greater scheme for the inner city of Spijkenisse. In order to strengthen and densify the inner city, MVRDV has proposed a series of apartment buildings which reflect the local typology though on a larger scale. The entire new complex including the public spaces will be clad in brick. The result is an extension of the existing pattern and enhancement of the local identity.

Completion of the library and the apartments are expected September 2011. The ground breaking ceremony took place in the presence of Spijkenisse City Councillors Gert Jan ‘t Hart and Marjolijne Lewis and the director of the Spijkenisse Public Library Mr. Huub Leenen. Further architect Winy Maas of MVRDV, Jaap Bosselaar and Charif Mounji of Arcadis and Mr. Meurs, director of contractor Vorm Bouw, took part in the ceremony which was also attended by elementary school children from Spijkenisse.

More Dezeen stories about MVRDV:



Balancing barn


Westerdok Apartment Building


Gwanggyo Power Centre


Rødovre Skyscraper


Logroño Montecorvo Eco City


Urban Beads


Tirana Rocks


Make it Right (with other architects)


Gyre (movie)

Posted on Friday May 29th 2009 at 10:41 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • NaRa

    Say it again….please

  • NaRa

    ohoh….all that moneys and financial institutions have been mumbo jumboed and now here we are: neo nonlinear late modernist worldsaver architecture begins.

  • Books + the Sun = Decay

  • sluggo

    Books hate light, it destroys them.

  • Vox

    It’s very conceptional – the shell is optical much stronger than the “book mountain”. An other question is that much light (sun) in combination with books – I guess not.

  • This is Babel ! Accumulation instead of intelligibility. A pile of books instead of a hierarchy. Looks like a “funny place”, looks like a greenhouse, looks like a place specially made for the destruction of knowledge ; so much light is a great idea to turn the books into dust.

  • ste

    they had it… they lost it…

  • yimyim

    I love MVRDV, but this….is…… not yet working.
    The sun will be blocked by the ‘Zonneschermen’ if you read the diagram. But this will only further deteriorate the already terribly resolved ‘shell’ that is protecting the ‘mountain’.

  • sc hu yl er

    Obviously books “hate” sunlight, however one can’t underestimate how far window treatments have come along. It could work. I think it’s interesting.

  • William

    windows with a uv filter and other clever window mumbo jumbo technology would stop the books from being harmed. i really dont like all the bricks though :S

  • gab xiao

    the point is creating an attractive space for public, and they seem to achieve that with a low-tech building: open, accessible, exposed to the surroundings… it’s an approach, regardless the weathering of books – they won’t keep rare manuscripts there. one doesn’t have to confine between dark, blank walls to read a book, c’mon

  • Luxury Larry

    You gonna be fried going in there….I hope the end result will have a lot less glass!!

  • al

    anyone seen the seattle library?
    right: glass all over!!
    so what’s the problem?
    of course climate condition will depend on the quality and type of glass
    mvrdv has proven they can transform strong concepts into strong buildings

  • s•a•m

    Sunlight is very bad for paper.
    Books are made of paper.

  • The 1.25-inch-thick Vermont marble walls of Gordon Bunshaft’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale do a great job of protecting the “book mountain” inside. I’m not so sure about this treated glass either…

  • Scott

    Really interesting design. I remember someone from MVRDV presenting this at IIT a few years back. I just wish the presentation came along further to show us exactly what everyone is pointing out – sunlight – UV and Heat Gain. Other than that it is a really fun design.

  • hugo

    forget the books. that greenhouse effects is going to roast the readers.

  • Indi

    Do they have sun in the Netherlands?

  • tobe

    Book + Sunlight??
    that’s true, architect never read book. they just flip the book with images.

  • subvertlab

    is that light exposure the worst thing that could happen to books?

  • Niels

    I agree there is reflecting and absorbing glass that could probably work but never the less, the sunscreens and/or better glass are a lot of effort to solve problems they created themselves. Even Henry Van de Velde (1933) new that a library shouldn’t be a glass building but a massive one instead. Look at all the trouble with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris by Perrault. Impossible conditions for a library

  • Tyler

    What the?

  • Let’s call the whole thing off.

  • Hamster

    Who needs books!

  • rick

    ‘zonnenschermen’ are sunscreens in dutch, so that will resolve the before mentioned problems, still looks pretty boring though

  • sluggo

    “one doesn’t have to confine between dark, blank walls to read a book”

    Not to read it but to store them, yes. I’m sure nothing with sunshading could ever go wrong. Architects have never made unsubstantiated claims before.

  • phil

    I don’t quite get it? The transparency of the place would be ruined by the sunscreens, but the sun will ruin the books, yet there concept calls for transparency? WTF?

  • Sun light Will Destroy those book

  • rahool

    Actually the ziggurat type configuration is nice and they could’ve played with the envelope to follow it instead of a boring hold-it-all pyramid!

  • ab

    the seattle library; if you look carefully, the books are kept in the “book spiral” section with no daylight exposure. the living room has a lot of daylight

  • yaulee

    at least they are honest in showing the ladders in there- this arrangement of book stacks does make some books highly inaccessible, looks more like the old bookstores. The librarians would be busy fetching books for the less mobile readers

  • Is this library built with anti-reflective solar glass ?

  • Somo

    do people not read eachothers comments? It does rather testify that architects can’t / don’t read.. so, what is the problem here with books that everyone is concerned will deteriorate. Discussion board would be more interesting than repetition board.

  • As an addition some information about the books:

    The sun would indeed deteriorate the books, but the books in this library are bound and glued in plastic and have a life-span of only a few years untill they fall apart from reading.

    The books will not get a chance to deteriorate from light.

    The higher shelves are for archiving and old books that are not used anymore, not valuable books, this suburban library does not have them. The signalling function of these bookcases is important part of the design of the book mountain and used as tool to attract visitors. The characteristics of the book collection make this visibility and exposition to sunlight possible.

  • Simon

    I’m pretty sure if I presented this scheme in my final crit I would be ripped apart!

    Nonetheless, I believe MVRDV have created some interesting spaces to make this building work.

  • ahmad alsheikh syria

    SUN !!!

  • Hector

    I think conceptually it has a lot of thing going for it. I've read some posts arguing over so much bricks. If you think about it, they are using brick on the plaza – which is a public place by definition – and in the interior of the library which I think it brings an argument of how knowledge should be accessible to every person. By using the same material the difference between exterior and interior is dissolved. To the aspect of light, it will have to be seen how it works once it's done. Architecture needs this kind of design that TELL something at least to our subconscious, there's already too much "pretty" buildings out there.