Location, Location, Feasibility StudyOctober 23, 2021
Half the fun of any debate is the quality of the arguments. But how do you get started when there aren’t any facts and figures to talk about? When entering political discussions, evidence is vital. We conducted a study to quantify and describe just how suitable various locations would be for a new library.
The city of Nijkerk, a mid-size town with a strong agrarian and tourist economy in the heart of the Netherlands, is rethinking the current location of its library. The goal is to make sure it is suitable for the next life cycle a social hotspot, where its users can experience ‘time well spent’. To supply the political debate with evidence-based arguments for pros and cons, we examined three different local locations. Besides the contextual aspects of each spot, the volume of the plot had to be taken into consideration because the city uses this to differentiate between stand-alone and mixed-use facilities.
Giving people something to talk about
The feasibility study aimed to investigate, rate and evaluate all three different sites on relevant physical characteristics to decide about the suitability of the various options for the new-thought library. The study’s findings should mold opinions, spurring the political debate in Nijkerk. The study’s purpose is to guide the debate on the way to find the best possible locations for the future library.
We have developed a set of lenses to identify the best third place, taking a closer look at the three different potential sites. These lenses help us view inclusivity from as many angles as possible. They are shaped by theories of our heroes such as William H. Whyte (urbanist, sociologist, organizational analyst, journalist and people-watcher), Paco Underhill (environmental psychologist), Kevin Lynch (urban planner), Ray Oldenburg (sociologist), B. Joe Pine II (the author who brought us the ‘experience economy’) and many others. They offer a fresh view of the physical aspects of successful third places. Categorized by Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we identify and prioritize the psychological importance of the physical aspects of social places.
Our study’s purpose is to guide the debate on the way to find the best possible locations for the future library.
Based upon these insights, we analyze, rate and evaluate site and context on demographic, social, geographic, economic, traffic and public transport issues. Also, urban factors are taken into account such as year of construction, age of a neighborhood, destinations plans, the ratio of rental to owner-occupied housing, etc.
On top of that, we mapped the current situation of the library into practical building blocks. These were projected onto the options to test and check dimensions, practical issues, etc. of the potential library functionality.
And last but not least, the Dutch Library Law is taken into account as far as the physical matters that allow for healthy library operation. Yes, we cover all the bases and then some!
Ready? Set? Debate!
Despite this myriad of perspectives, things are simplified thanks to our transparent rating system. It summarizes all findings in a couple of numbers for each plot – ready for discussions to take off. We delivered a solid sparring set for the city council’s political debate.
Nijkerk Library Feasibility Study
Team includi: Eunice Ma, Tessa Wennink, Kirstin Hanssen, Sjoerd Rekker, Aat Vos
Client: Stichting Bibliotheken Gemeente Nijkerk
Images: maps & photography by includi