Ten years ago, facing competition from other information sources and dwindling interest, the main library in Almere realized something drastic need to be done to reestablish the branch as an information destination and community hub. They started by surveying their existing members and discovered that some interesting ‘customer profiles’ emerged. Preferring to think of library patrons as customers rather than members, Marga Kleinenberg and her colleagues at the library took a look at how retail stores appeal to their customers.
A call was put out to architectural firms and Netherlands based Concrete won the commission along with Meyer & Van Schooten architects who designed the building shell.
A series of stepped terraces were created and marked with winding contour lines edged with curving bookshelves. Each of these terraces became a different category zone. For instance there is a ‘High Tension’ zone which caters to information junkies looking for fast sources of information.
Concrete also rethought how the books were to be displayed and abandoned the traditional linear shelves packed with books only showing the spines. Taking a que from bookstores, the new shelving system provides for more books to be displayed showing their covers.
A range of different seating and lighting combinations are integrated into the shelving and cater to customers stopping by to browse or those intent on spending longer amounts of time with study or research. Large benches encourage a casual atmosphere and lampshades are brought down to signal a scale more residential scale.