Amsterdam Public Library

  • The lighting design creates a landscape with contrasting zones.
  • A system for distributing fresh air is incorporated into the floors.
  • The building makes use of free cooling from the cold air outside.

Opened in 2007, Amsterdam’s new library - Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam - is designed to connect learning with participation and experience. One of the city’s largest public projects, it attracts two million visitors every year.

A sense of space

The vision of the architect, Jo Coenen, was to create a building with light and space at its heart. Arup’s lighting design creates a landscape with contrasting zones on the large collection floors. Luminous escalators guide visitors upstairs to terraces in the library’s high atrium.

To help achieve a sense of space, Arup’s structural and building design specialists cleverly hid the building’s equipment and services from view. A system for distributing fresh air is incorporated into the floors.

As sustainable as possible

This innovation also extended to ensuring the Amsterdam Public Library is as sustainable as possible. The building uses a ground source heat system together with very efficient boilers. It also makes use of free cooling from the cold air outside whenever possible.

As well as borrowing books, the library offers people the chance to attend special events, presentations, exhibitions and cultural activities. It includes seven collection floors and provides a storage area for books, a theatre, a readers’ cafe and a restaurant overlooking the city.

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  • Amsterdam Library ©Arup. Credit Michal van OostenPlay video

    FILM FOCUS: The project's architect, engineers and clients talk about the library’s unique features.

  • Inside the Amsterdam Public Library - the lighting design creates a landscape with contrasting zones.Open gallery

    The lighting design creates a landscape with contrasting zones.