The Boekenberg: from design to grand opening

After years of planning, adjusting and building, the Boekenberg opened its doors in April 2012. The first plans were drawn in 2004 but the realisation was postponed for eight years because of weary contractors and objections from residents. There was a lot of commotion about the complexity of the building and obstruction of the view. In the sixties, sheep walked where the Boekenberg now stands. “For the residents, the Boekenberg meant an obstruction of their view and the end of the ‘village’ opposed to a city.” Jan Knikker (Head of PR at Architectural Office MVRDV) states in the book “Boekenberg Spijkenisse. Biography of the building.” published by MVRDV.

“The look of the library, both in shape as materialization, refers to a classic Dutch farmhouse; a reminder of the past agricultural fields of Spijkenisse, which grew from village to city in recent decades.” – MVRDV

MVRDV designs the Boekenberg

The original design, as made by Winy Maas, architect at MVRDV, has made some changes over the years. Some practical changes as well as new rules caused this. “In an ideal world, the Boekenberg would be an open-air library, with its books available at all times.” Nicoline Baartman, journalist and author of the mentioned book, writes. Maas had originally planned a mountain without a ceiling, the “climbing wall” or “monkeys rock” as it would be called. However, this plan wasn’t possible with the (typically Dutch) rainy weather, and so the glass roof came into the picture.

The Boekenberg’s shape was inspired by a barn with a transparent, pointed roof, which now gives the illusion of open-air. The required window-cleaning system is seen as an obstruction of this openness. The mountain was, after many years, realised as a step pyramid (Ziggurat) which the architect had originally envisioned. All of the closed spaces like offices, storage and conference rooms are stacked. Around the mountain are bookcases, surrounded by walkways, meeting spaces, study rooms and presentation spaces. Read more about this impressive design here.

Now, everyone can come visit the Boekenberg, but before we only had the blueprints. In the video below you can see what MVRDV had originally envisioned.

Grand opening of the library

The glass pyramid opened for public in April 2012, but was officially opened by Princess Laurentien on October 4th, along with the 42 surrounding houses also designed by MVRDV. The openings weekend was a perfect way for locals to get to know this new icon in their city. The employees were there to give information about the collection, the climate-control system and architecture. Besides a tour of the building, many activi-ties were available. Stories were being read to kids, there was a children’s film playing, a multicultural tasting as well as a drawing mini-workshop. These activities were organised to show the extensive program the Boekenberg would be offering.

In the video below, the architect, director, employees and visitors describe the realisation of the Boekenberg and their personal experiences.