The path that climbs up this Book Mountain in Holland is 480 meteres long. It’s an impressive length for an interior walkway, at over a quarter of a mile, and it is lined with books. But it’s telling that this quater mile of books took ten years for MVRDV to realize. That’s because Book Mountain is not just a library, but the centerpiece of a new development in the city of Spijkenisse. Along with the hiking trail of books, the Library Quarter will contain affordable housing, commercial space and spaces for community use when it is completed.
The immaginative massing of the library and surrounding programs is not too surprising for MVRDV, but the more I look at images of the interior (taken by Jeroen Musch) the more I am surprised by the understated material palette of the project: Brick, glass and wood. Of course there are surprises– the architect’s description mentions doors made out of brick- but at least the color palette of these materials seems more natural and neutral. And it seems like a deliberate shift. As an homage to the town’s agriculture past, the bookshelves in the library are made from recycled flowerpots.
At the top, where you might expect to find a glowing piece of the Aggro Crag, there is a lovely sitting area with trees and a brick floor. It’s a good place to rest after climbing a quarter mile.