In partnership with architectural firm J. van Stigt, we are responsible for designing the University of Amsterdam’s new library in Amsterdam’s city centre. It will become a unique public space covering over 12,000 m² where hundreds of students, staff and residents will study, work and live.
Universiteit van Amsterdam
The University of Amsterdam is developing open inner-city campuses in and around Roeterseiland and at the Amsterdam Science Park to strengthen bonds within the academic community and to encourage greater cooperation. At the Binnengasthuisterrein site, an inner-city campus is being built for the Faculty of Humanities. The University Library (UB) will form an integral part of this campus and become a central meeting point for the faculty’s students. The new library will be housed in the former second surgical clinic and the nurses’ home.
The complex dating from 1900 surrounds an open inner courtyard. By covering the entire courtyard, it will be possible to create unity between the various buildings and to experience the UB as a single entity. The new atrium will form the heart of the UB and the inner-city campus site as a whole. From the central atrium, a main stairway will lead up to quieter areas, housing book collections and study areas, and down to a borrowing desk in the basement (Level 1).
The atrium will be covered with a particularly unusual roof – one of the most radical aspects of the new design. We developed a roof structure that spans the void and extends over and beyond the existing buildings like a huge leaf. Panels will also be laid out to resemble a leaf’s vein patterning. Old and new will be blended together in a respectful fashion to preserve listed buildings and to make them visible from within the atrium. The steel superstructure will not only connect the former clinic and nurses’ home, but also form a climatic buffer zone for the entire building.
Ground-floor areas will house most of the public spaces, such as study rooms and classrooms, as well as the UB canteen. Because existing buildings are listed, exterior changes will be kept to an absolute minimum. New construction work will only take place at the corner of the campus on Nieuwe Doelenstraat. We will be widening the former ambulance gateway on Vendelstraat to create a new main entrance – open and accessible – designed to establish a direct link between the campus and the atrium at the heart of the UB. A façade screen will be installed outside study rooms on the first and second floors of the new building, which will morph from an abstract pattern to recognizable figures or signs as you approach the corner of the campus on Nieuwe Doelenstraat. These figures and signs will form references to the Humanities.