‘There will be more toilets on all floors, more greenery and ‘soundproofed areas’ accommodating printing and coffee facilities between the stairwell and the study rooms,’ says Anouk Vermeulen, architect from AG Architecten. ‘The University Library will be given an extra roof terrace, and the number of workstations will rise to approximately 2,240.’ These are the main elements of the Preliminary Design drawn up by this firm of architects from Haarlem on behalf of the University of Groningen. The University Library Master Plan presented in January forms the basis of these extensive renovations.
The new Library will have more workstations: some 2,240 in total. This number can be expanded if the need for open bookshelves drops in the future. The new lay-out creates room for more computer workstations, more reading areas, more group spaces and more silent zones. Solo seating next to the bookshelves will be introduced as a new phenomenon. ‘We noticed that these solo seats were very popular in other libraries,’ says Vermeulen.
In line with the Master Plan (January 2014), most of the workstations will be located along the exterior walls to maximise natural daylight. The architect has put a lot of thought into separating rooms where noise is generated (from printers, toilets, coffee areas and lockers) from the places where people want to study in peace. Strategically placed bookcases and clearly marked routes through the Library will create smart buffer zones. Most workstations will be equipped with plug points, except those in the silent zones, where smart devices are not allowed.There are also a few additions to the Master Plan. An outside area on the second floor will be turned into an extra roof terrace. Also on the second floor, the open area will be closed off to create more surface area and flexibility for the building lay-out. The staircase on the ground floor will be linked to the basement via a stairwell, making it possible to build an underground bike shelter in the future. Until then, the basement will continue to be used for book storage.
The technical standard of the building will be raised. Tests with an improved, more sustainable ventilation system have already proved successful, and the University Library will also be equipped with faster, more efficient internet. From September, the university will undergo a pilot with high-speed wireless internet using 802.11 ac technology, which theoretically enables speeds up to 600 MB/second. Th e aim of the pilot is to increase the capacity and speed of the wireless network using the very latest technology. To make the building more sustainable, BAM Techniek (the company responsible for the installation work) will fit LED lighting and solar panels on the roof. Greenery will be visible from all workplaces. Finally, surplus materials will be recycled wherever possible. Redundant lockers will be put to good use in the Sports Centre on Zernike Campus, and the rest will be recycled in the Library.
The first phase of the renovations (start: late September) is to prepare the current location of the lockers on the ground floor for the new coffee café. The architect will also make suggestions for colour schemes and materials for the study rooms, the interior and the new entrance zone of the University Library. Students and staff will be asked for their opinions. The renovation work will be phased over several years to minimize inconvenience, and to ensure that the Library and its collections remain accessible. The second phase will involve renovating the fourth floor. The University Library Master Plan was a result of cooperation between Library staff, student representatives and specialists from in and outside the University of Groningen. More information about the Preliminary Design and the renovations can be found on:
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