Velbert Library

Surprisingly familiar

October 19, 2023

How do you transform a library of some 40 years of age into a modern third place? By, among other things, doing solid research and setting the required design conditions. In the German town of Velbert, this led to a bold interior design with a touch of 1980s aesthetics. These design specials make visiting this library an unexpected experience.

Time to test

The Bürgerforum Niederberg opened in Velbert in the early 1980s. This beloved cultural and event house – later renamed Forum Velbert – is home to the region’s most important cultural organizations, including the library, a family office, a theater and a center for adult education. Over forty years later, the Forum needed a major update, which had to take into account the copyright protection of some architectural elements. The initial renovation plans already included a significant expansion of the library. However, a renovation alone does not necessarily transform a library into an authentic third place. In addition, the library organization had specific requirements that they wanted translated into the new library design. These issues required a step-by-step approach.

Mission: the creation of a ‘third place library’

The initial renovation plans were extensively researched by includi. We also identified the remaining missing factors – the basic elements of a “third place library”. This was followed by a Design Workshop with the library team. Together we arrived at a clear positioning and identity of Library Velbert 2.0. We then translated the results of the Design Workshop and a small-scale user survey into a new interior design for the library, spread over three floors. As art director, includi safeguarded the concept and the intended identity during the implementation phase. We paid extra attention to the new Children’s World: an imaginative discovery place for the youngest visitors.

Working with Aat Vos and his team has been a tremendous asset to the overall Forum Velbert project. The library evokes a permanent enthusiasm in me.

Jörg Ostermann Jörg Ostermann Head of the Building Department

Remodeled, yet familiar

includi’s interior design closely matches the building’s original architecture and identity from the 1980s. This nostalgic ambiance is also recognizable in the mix of distinct furniture and decorative lighting with modernist design classics. Despite its large size, visitors will not easily feel lost in Library Velbert. By playing with strong colors, materials and floor coverings, different zones have been created, each with its own atmosphere. The library in the Forum also offers numerous places to stay and sit. You can spend time together with others or withdraw a little more, for example into the cozy room or the family room.

Discovery is always around the corner

Visitors are taken on a journey of discovery through different worlds at Velbert Library. For all ages, there is always something to read, learn, explore and to experience. The library includes a “James Bond door” – a rotating bookcase – a MakerSpace and learning studios. Youth can chill in the quirky cocoons in the old “cones” next to the theater auditorium. Meanwhile, little ones can embark on adventures in the magical Children’s World that includes a play net and mini slide.

This creates a library in Forum Velbert that feels familiar but always manages to offer a surprise, a versatile third place where you never get bored.

The special quality of the rooms really does open up to visitors of all ages and backgrounds. People from Velbert now grasp the participatory idea of a modern library quite intuitively.

Ulrike Motte Ulrike Motte Director of the Velbert Library

Project credits

Client: Stadtbücherei Velbert 
Area: 2,000 m2
Location: Velbert, Germany
Research, Strategy, Design, Art-Direction: includi
Building partners: Vinci (project manager construction), Schlechter & Co (interior builder), Team Stonepark (supplier loose furniture/carpets), Anja Dreier-Brückner (drawings Children’s World) 
Photography: Marco Heyda