Comparable to a flight data recorder, the UBU is more than a place where people can consult books – it is a place where they can work in concentrated fashion, but also meet people without the need for any other stimuli except the atmosphere that the building radiates.
Floating like clouds, the book depots divide the space into zones, and are interconnected by stairs and slopes.
The depots in black figured concrete on which the reading rooms rest are encased by a partly double-glazed façade to which a silk screened design has been applied to let in natural light. The glass façade also encloses the car park like a smooth skin, making it an integral part of the complex.
On one side, is the university site where the view from the raw interior offers a filtered prospect of the open countryside around; on the other, is the view of the long slopes beside the inner courtyard that act as blinds filtering 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 emphasis on creating a sense of security. This was essential in the choice of a black interior. A light, shiny floor provides enough reflection of natural or artificial light to illuminate some of the 4.2 million books to be found on the open shelves, while the long white tables make reading a book or consulting electronic information possible without excessive strain.
The individual workplace with full facilities is the key element. They have been positioned in such a way that the user’s choice of workplace determines the degree of communication with other users. Absorption versus confrontation, working in a concentrated way versus communication: these are the main premises in this library where also the infrastructure has more than one function.
This also informs the circulation route which leads to the bar, lounge area, reception corner (cocktail corner), auditorium and desks, all of which are highlighted with red rubber. Other programmes such as shops, add a further dimension to the route, breaking down the monofunctionality of the library programme.