Amsterdam, NL | Maastricht, NL | Zürich, CH
The UBU, comparable to a data recorder, is more than a place where people can consult books; it is a place where they can work in a concentrated fashion, but also one where they can meet other people without the need of any other stimulation except the atmosphere that the building radiates.
The book depots, which seem to float, divide the space into zones and are interconnected by stairs and slopes. All in black figured concrete on which a partly double-glazed facade to which a silk-screened figurative pattern has been applied in order to let natural light into the building, encases the reading rooms. The glass façade also encloses the car park like a smooth skin, thereby making it an integral part of the complex. On one side it is the university site where the view from the raw interior offers a filtered prospect of the open countryside surrounding it, on the other, there is the view of the long slopes situated beside the inner courtyard that work as blinds to filter the view of the car park.
Based on the idea that silent communication is important in a building where there is hardly any talking, the atmosphere is determined with an emphasis on creating a sense of security. That was essential for the choice of a black interior. A light, shiny floor provides enough reflection of natural or artificial light to illuminate some of the 42 million books that are on open shelves, while the long white tables make it possible to read a book or to consult electronic information without too much effort. The individual workplace with full facilities is the key element, and has been positioned in such a way that the user’s choice of a workplace also determines the degree of communication with other users.
Absorption versus confrontation, working in a concentrated way versus communication, is the main premises in this library where the infrastructure has more than one function. The route is also programmed by it, since the bar, the lounge area, the reception corner, the auditorium, the desks, all fitted with red rubber and other programmes such as shops, add an extra dimension to the route, thereby breaking down the mono-functionality of the library program.
3584 CS Utrecht
Date of design
Date of completion
WAA for Quinze & Milan
Wiel Arets, Harold Aspers, Dominic Papa, René Thijssen, Frederik Vaes, Henrik Vuust
Pauline Bremmer, Jacques van Eyck, Harold Hermans, Guido Neijnens, Michael Pedersen, Vincent Piroux, Jan Vanweert, Michiel Vrehen, Richard Welten
West 8, ABT Adviseurs in Bouwtechniek BV, Huygen Installatieadviseurs BV, Cauberg - Huygen Raadgevende Ingenieurs BV, Adviesbureau Peutz & Associates BV, Wilimas Bouwadviseurs BV, Adapt 3D, Heijmans-IBC Bouw BV, GTI Utiliteit Midden BV, Permasteelisa Central Europe BV
Location: Utrecht, NL
My Role: Architect