In a bonus entry of our penta-biannual feature GREAT DUTCH LIBRARIES OF THE NETHERLANDS comes Bibliotheek Rotterdam, completed in 1983 and the last project of Jaap Bakema. Bakema’s great theoretical contribution to his field was the very Dutch notion of “Total Space” in which architecture forms a seamless extension of “human habitat.”
Jaap Bakema Transitional Elements, sketch 1961
The canary yellow and navy blue cascade of piping flowing from the bibliotheek’s roof enacts a somewhat overstated echo of the Centre Pompidou’s own playful deconstructionism. On the building’s facade, you will find a quote (spelled out in neon) from Erasmus, Rotterdam’s spiritual and philosophical father: “Heel de wereld is mijn vaderland” <”All the world is my country”>, which is technically not true.
Interior lampshades now seem like IKEA overload:
As perhaps the greatest sign of respect to the building (and hard evidence that it has entered the essential cannon of Netherlands architecture), you can find a miniature replica of the bibliotheek at Madorudam, that existential park of the small where all Dutch people come to ogle their world from above: