University Library (UBU)

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Wiel Arets


Location: Utrech, Holanda
Date: 2004
Photography: Jan Biter



Format    Pdf
Pages 18
Language Spanish, English

Online access (subscribers)

The library, which houses 4,2 million books, was intended, in addition to being a place where people could work in a concentrated manner, to also become the intellectual social center for the suburban university campus, where students and others can come to study and meet at all times of the day. The 40 meter tall library and the adjacent, lower parking garage, both clad in glass and concrete imprinted with the same silk-screened figurative pattern, are sited on the major road and pedestrian pathway across the campus.

The simple rectangular massing of the library and the repetitive rhythm of its concrete cladding and glazing, which is subtly modulated by the projecting operable sections, stands in stark contrast to the rich, plastic spatial complexity of the interior spaces.

The books are stored in two primary volumes that seem to float up towards the ceiling. The massive, lifted book stack volumes are made of black-painted cast concrete, and the walls have a three-dimensional figural pattern cast into them which matches the two-dimensional pattern imprinted on the exterior glazing. While the black pattern on the glazing filters the natural light entering the building, the pattern embossed in the black-colored concrete walls acts to diffuse and bounce the light deeper into the interior spaces.

At the center of the building, a vertical space, running from the ground to the roof, is opened between the two book stack volumes, which are interconnected by a series of stairs and sloping ramps. This central vertical space forms the experiential hinge of the building, interweaving the lines of movement, the spatial layers, and the internal views.

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