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I’ve lived in Philadelphia for about five years now, and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. But like most people, I’ve got a short wishlist of cities I’d like to live in, assuming I ever do decide to relocate. There’s New York City, of course; I’m a writer, so that one’s pretty obvious. There’s also the Bay Area; most of my family is spread out around Northern California, and I think about returning from time to time. But now I’ve got an international city to add to my list: Spijkenisse, Netherlands.

Why? Well, because that’s the location of Book Mountain, of course.Book Mountain Netherlands

Designed by the Dutch architectural firm MVRDV, Spijkenisse Book Mountain, as it’s officially known, is a pyramid-shaped, glass-encased public library that “contains a spiraling trail of staircases, pathways and terraces that create a 480 metre-long route through five floors of bookshelves towards a cafe beneath the pyramid’s apex,” according to a review in Dezeen, an architecture and design magazine published in London.

Interestingly enough, the idea for Book Mountain didn’t come out of nowhere. The building sits adjacent to 42 social housing units that are home to a community with a 10 percent illiteracy rate. According to the MVRDV website, the building was created as “both an advertisement and an invitation for reading.” And what’s more, Book Mountain was specifically designed to be a fun and useful place to visit, even for the community’s illiterate population: The Book Mountain building also houses an environmental education center, a chess club, an auditorium, and even retail shops.

It’s impossible to understand the building’s true grandeur, though, without actually seeing it, and thankfully there are tons of great photos online. Dezeen has a great selection, as does the MVRDV site; you can watch photo slideshows at full-screen size on both sites. Design Boom also has a good feature with huge photos.

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  1. @PA Wilson – Exactly! It’s also such an obvious solution to a fairly serious problem. Not that having a library next door to a community with a high illiteracy rate is going to automatically solve the problem … but still, it’d be interesting to see if that 10 percent grows any smaller as the years pass.

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