Uithoorn library

Let's read by the riverside

August 30, 2022

An authentic village that is missing a social gathering place for all ages… how can it create a clear core for its residents? Through the relocation and repositioning of the local public library as an inviting Third Place. The village of Uithoorn (the Netherlands), situated by the Amstel River, did exactly that and steered its library towards a safe haven that fosters community spirit.

After moving to a temporary pop-up location, Uithoorn Library, a branch of Bibliotheek Amstelland, could finally open its doors at ‘De Rede’, a new construction project designed by FARO architects. This building holds apartments, a small harbor office, and on the ground floor, the library. A provincial road splits the village center of Uithoorn in two. In the coming years, the municipality will continue to work on ‘forging together’ the village halves to facilitate a more integrative, coherent and unique village character. The library will take on a major social function as Uithoorn lacked an open meeting point in its center. With the opening of the new library, Uithoorn now has a freely accessible place for everyone. Here, self-development, discovery and fun are essential.

“The carefully chosen interior with warm colors and maximum flexibility makes our library a special meeting place where people feel at home.”

Daphne Janson Daphne Janson Director Bibliotheek Amstelland

A casual public space

From a location where you mainly borrow books, this library will transform into a relevant cultural hotspot where knowledge is readily available for everyone. A casual interior sets an inviting foundation. On top of that, you can stay here, alone or with company. For Bibliotheek Amstelland and the municipality, it is crucial that this cultural hub is not only made for but also by the local scene. These needs are met through features such as the large reading annex community table, the makerspace table crafted from leftover floorboards, a stage available for debates, events and so on. Young visitors can have fun in the special children’s section by chilling out on the many large cushions or exploring the books on different levels.

Daphne Janson, Director Bibliotheek Amstelland explains, “Our goal is to connect people, knowledge and culture in this unique public facility.” This mission emerged during a workshop week that includi – in sync with FARO Architects – organized with the library team and stakeholders. Daphne continues, “The carefully chosen interior with warm colors and maximum flexibility makes our library a special meeting place where people feel at home. The design supports our ambition to create a lively Third Place, a second living room for all Uithoorn residents. We see this becoming a reality through spontaneous meetings, as well as young and old finding their way together. Furthermore, lots of wishes and ideas for meaningful activities reach us from the local community which can be included in the programming.”

“Orange cocoons in the shape of the typical houses along the Amstel River form a playful element within the accessible and colorful interior.”

Tessa Wennink Tessa Wennink Interior Designer at includi

Go with the flow

The new library is situated in a special location on the Amstel River. Tessa Wennink, Interior Designer at includi, describes: “The river inspired us, not only in color, but also in movement. The water lapses against the quay and creates an undulating image. We reflected this in cool blue colors on the walls, contrasting the overall warm color palette. This can be seen on the back wall of the children’s section painted with abstract blue waves. Orange cocoons in the shape of the typical houses along the Amstel River form another playful element within the accessible and colorful interior.”

When entering the library you are welcomed into a light, open space. A coffee bar with seats is the first point visitors see, inviting them to sit, sip and flip through a book or a newspaper. To preserve the openness of the space and to accentuate the height, an XXL bookcase embraces a wall together with the cozy orange house-shaped cocoons. The books themselves form the interior decor. There is also a work bar with a magnificent view over the Amstel, various seating areas under homely roofs, quiet workstations and comfortable armchairs to lean back in.

In addition to these open spots, the new library has four meeting rooms. These spaces can be rented or used by other organizations, such as for the Taalhuis (offering support for people in the field of language, math or digital skills). Tessa summarizes, “Today’s library is above all a place where you are flexible in how you desire to use the space. What do you want and what do you need? Go and get it in the new, contemporary library of Uithoorn.”

Project credits

Client: Bibliotheek Amstelland
Concept, design, strategy, implementation: includi (team: Aat Vos, Tessa Wennink)
General constructor: Stonepark Interiorbuilders
Architect building: FARO Architects
Project developer: Van Wijnen 
Area: 555 m2
Photography: Marco Heyda