Oosterhout Library


February 2, 2017

This is a tale of ironic simplicity. Oosterhout Library (Theek5) launched a European wide design competition. The winner would turn the library into an urban living room. This library wanted to be 100% for the public, and not discriminate against people who could not afford 4.50 euros to have a coffee in a welcoming environment.

Oosterhout simply wanted an interior for the people. After designs were pitched to them twice, Oosterhout decided to take matters into their own hands by launching a competition. We made a team of six people and we asked ourselves what we would appreciate most if we were living in Oosterhout. The solution was in the question, visitors were asking for a design by people, for people. We pitched our ideas and won the competition. However, this was no ordinary win. Oosterhout was so on board with our vision that the design we entered in the competition was executed exactly as intended, without any alterations.

The solution was in the question.

Aat Vos Aat Vos Creative Director at includi

Wooden shelves, wood on the walls, wood everywhere helped us create warmth, just like in a living room. Light materials, and many objects on wheels, allowed people to rearrange their surroundings at their convenience and took the library from stagnant to flexible. Eye-catching props like a Pink Panther statue gave a light-hearted touch while art on digital displays demonstrated that the library was also modern and cutting-edge. This library invited people to come together in groups, whether it was for reading or studying, time in classrooms, a reading café and many other possibilities were made available. There was now a space for everyone.

Combining simplicity and innovative architecture

Despite it being a library, the books should not overpower the warm atmosphere. By strategically placing the bookshelves against walls and around the staircases we created space, giving patrons a lot of area to move around in; inviting everyone to explore. The furniture was a wild mix of modern and vintage, adding a timeless character. Instead of the traditional approach where libraries are made for books, this one’s made for people. This simplicity is found in transparency, with an easy view outside into the surrounding woods, accompanied by easy view inside thanks to a low-rise interior.

Something out of the box won the hearts of the community because we asked ourselves what we wanted in our living rooms. The result? A cross between an information center and coffee place. This competition showed us that most people want the same thing out of a third space, an inclusive space that is welcoming to all and does not discriminate.

Project credits

Design team: Farzad Salehi, Auke de Vor, Justus Steinhart, Robbert Jan Rademaker (StonePark Interiorbuilders) and Johan Mosterd.
Photography: Marco Heyda