The layout of the University Library needs to be improved, it must be prepared technically for a digital future and more room must be created for students. This was the challenge issued to architect Rob Hendriks (DAAD Architecten) by the University of Groningen. On 27 January 2014, the Board of the University of Groningen formally approved the Masterplan UB [University Library Master Plan]. This plan will serve as a framework for extensive renovations to the Library building, which is going on 30 years old.
‘We are delighted with the plans for the future of our building,’ says University Librarian Marjolein Nieboer. ‘For many years now, the University Library has been an important workplace for students. This Master Plan has created more space, increasing the number of student workstations from 1,700 to at least 2,200, and possibly even more in the future.’ The emphasis of the plans is on functional workstations along the external wall to ensure maximum daylight and provide optimum connections for the students’ own smart devices.
But this is not all that the University Library is aiming for with this plan. The new layout will also create a feeling of tranquillity and space. Central blocks of bookshelves, clearly marked floor zones and fewer freestanding elements in the rooms all contribute to a more organized layout on each floor. In addition, the building will become quieter the higher up and further from the stairwell you go. The silent workstations will be on the top floor and workstations where students can work in groups on the lower floors. The vast majority of public services, such as the loans desk and the central information desk, will be moved to the ground floor, making these services more accessible to users. The introduction of noise zones means that the canteen will also move to the ground floor, but a soundproofed room with vending machines will be built on all floors, so that students can have a cup of coffee, a chat, make a phone call or relax close to their workstations.
Technical improvements will prepare the renovated building for the future and make it more sustainable. As many student workstations as possible will be fitted with their own plug points and the capacity of the Wi-Fi network will be substantially increased. In addition, the interior climate will be improved to cope with the increased number of visitors, with a new ventilation system providing enough fresh air and a constant temperature, while cutting energy consumption. The Library will make considerable savings on its energy bills, but more importantly, the improved interior climate (together with the low-energy lighting) will push the building’s energy label from the B into the A category. This is an excellent achievement in terms of the University of Groningen’s sustainability strategy.
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