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The Book Mountain in Spijkenisse, The Netherlands

Close to the Port of Rotterdam, in Spijkenisse, is a public library that manifests itself as a mountain of books on the town’s market square. Shaped like a pyramid, the library contains five floors of bookshelves connected by 480 meters of staircases, pathways and indoor terraces, that spiral up to the pyramid's apex. The “mountain of books” is enclosed inside another pyramid whose barn-shaped structure reminds people of the towns agricultural past, which has grown from a farming village to self-sufficient educational and commercial center in the past 40 years. The Book Mountain is visible from all sides through its glass façade pyramid building which is illuminated from within serving both as an advertisement and an invitation to reading, which holds great significance for a community where only 10 percent of the population is illiterate.

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Besides the library, the building houses an environmental education center, a chess club, auditorium, meeting rooms, commercial offices and retail, which are located on the lower half of the glass building. The library occupies the terraces area so as to take advantage of the light and space provided by the glass roof.

In an effort to cut generation of greenhouse gases, the building is without air conditioning. In summer natural ventilation and sun screens result in a comfortable indoor climate. In winter under-floor heating and double glazing maintain a stable interior environment. Even the bookshelves, banister, parapet, information desks and bars are made of recycled flowerpots making them simultaneously fireproof and economic.

The Book Mountain was designed by Dutch architects MVRDV, and opened to the public in 2012. Its innovative design has won numerous architecture awards.

All photographs: courtesy MVRDV

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