Central Library, Amsterdam--page 1 (of three pages)

Jo Coenen

This seven-floor public library is the largest in Europe, with about 28,500 square meters. It is located on the Oosterdokseiland, a developing area of the city, just a five-minute walk east of Central Station. It is not only a traditional library, but also has a cafe, restaurant, theater, radio station, conference rooms, exhibition hall, and a terrace overlooking the city. Seating throughout the library offers south-facing panoramic views. open seven days a week, the library has about 2.5 million users and visitors annually.


A tripartite structure

The structure has a clear base and top, both of which have a public character--places where people meet and where the urban diversity is echoed in the design. In the central section, where books and library materials are housed, the structure is regular, organized, and repetitive.


Natural stone

Rather than synthetic materials, Coenen prefers stone, in this case, a variety of limestone, the color of which harmonizes with wood and concrete. Natural stone accentuates the durable aspect of architecture and affords it a certain elegance. It also ages nicely and when thresholds and stairs become worn, this only serves to enhance the building.

Works Cited or Consulted: Groenendijk, Paul and Piet Vollaard. Architecture Guide to the Netherlands 1900-2000. Rotterdam: Uitgeverij, 2006.
Groenendijk, Paul and Piet Vollaard. Guide to Contemporary Architecture in the Netherlands. Rotterdam: Uitgeverij, 2004.

Continue to page 2.

See also Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam by J. M. J. Coenen.

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