Oba Van Der Pek Library


April 6, 2017

Amsterdam van der Pek neighborhood is home to a small building that has transitioned from a butcher shop with apartments, to a supermarket, and finally to a library that inspires the area’s residents. How could such an adorable public library branch manage to claim its own significance for the area?

As one of the many remodeling projects of the Openbare Bibliotheken Amsterdam (OBA, Public Libraries of Amsterdam), a new library is introduced at the Mosveld shopping center, in the Van der Pek neighborhood of North Amsterdam. This building embarked on a transition to a public space that focused on inclusion. The aim was to create a library where people enjoy spending their time, one that invites neighbors to meet each other and patrons to exchange knowledge and learn from one another; the library strives to be a third place for all. This idea of inclusion was best implemented by bringing value to the building and pride to the people.

This idea of inclusion was best implemented by bringing value to the building, and pride to the people.

Aat Vos Aat Vos Creative Director at includi

The library is situated in an iconic building, which was constructed in the Amsterdamse School style; a type of architecture based on elements such as curves, verticality and poetic brick layouts, which bring pride, power, and beauty to the people. The building already had a locally inspired exterior, radiating a clear identity, but the challenge was to make the interior accomplish that as well. The limited available area inside the building meant that space had to used effectively. Multifunctionality can now be found, for example, in the library’s only counter, which acts as an information book, as well as an espresso bar.

A recognizable identity for all

The added value was brought by providing the opportunity for a coffee break on the outside terrace, which transformed the space into something more than just a library. With multiple levels and a spacious balcony, the building had the potential to become not only a fun area where people can hang out but also a comfortable and intimate space. This is reflected in the children’s corner, the study and workspaces and the multi-functional top floor. Oba van der Pek organizes various activities, like debates, inspirational talks, and workshops.

Wooden elements, warm and relaxed colors, including browns, reds, and greys create a homelike atmosphere. The interior design had to amplify the features of the small area. No space has been wasted in this petite building. Instead of smothering the interior with large props or furniture, we prioritized small elements that made a statement; their main goal was to give patrons a reason to stay by getting them curious and inspired.

Openbare Bibliotheken Amsterdam creates an identity with an iconic look, which instills pride in the local people.

Project credits

Client: Openbare Bibliotheken Amsterdam (OBA, Public Libraries of Amsterdam)
OBA Van der Pek Library is a co-creation of includi (design concept, strategy, art direction) and Mars Interieurarchitecten (design, engineering).
Architecture and restoration of the building: SeArch Architects
Photography: Marco Heyda & Jan de Vries