After a year-long renovation, Amsterdam's beloved library, OBA Oosterdok, re-welcomes visitors with a brand new experience to continually inspire and meet the guests' evolving needs. Among the upgrades are extended opening hours, additional study facilities and a new restaurant, Babel. Located on the library's 7th floor, with sweeping views over the city, Babel celebrates the rich diversity of Amsterdam's communities and people.
TANK designed the restaurant as a meeting place for residents to eat, drink and share their stories. With a catering concept by Vermaat, Babel is a wholesome all-day restaurant, inspired by the diverse flavors that Amsterdam has to offer. The recipes reflect different cultures of the city, varying from delicious healthy choices to hearty comfort foods. Most of the ingredients and suppliers are sourced from local neighbourhoods, giving guests a taste of Amsterdam on a plate. Beyond dining, the restaurant is a hub for communal happenings and events, including cooking workshops for children, where they can learn about diverse cultures through food.
The open kitchen is the heart and soul of the restaurant, housed within a completely white interior that works as a canvas for fresh ingredients and the lively activity in the kitchen. A central staircase leads guests into the heart of this area, past a cupboard wall of aromatic herbs and spices from around the world. Anchoring the kitchen, transparent beams extend across the ceiling to connect the restaurant zones together. Each beam celebrates Amsterdam's diversity with a greeting in a different language: "Nice to meet you! What brings you here?", giving guests a playful prompt to engage in a chat.
In contrast to the white world of the kitchen, the dining area is warm and cozy, featuring a natural wooden palette with large sofas and big tables that encourage visitors to sit together. The order and pick-up counter is a pop of colour, accentuated with a deep yellow finish that celebrates yellow as the colour of curiosity and creativity. Fresh plants permeate the interior to bring a touch of outdoor inside.
Named after the Tower of Babel, the restaurant invites every Amsterdammer to celebrate, be proud of and share their story, echoing OBA's mission to be the House of Knowledge that brings people together to learn and get inspired from each other.
Photography: Floris Heuer