University Library of the University of Amsterdam by Studio Roelof Mulder and Bureau Ira Koers


Amsterdam designers Studio Roelof Mulder and Bureau Ira Koers have won the Serve and Facilitate (Public) Great Indoors Award for their project University Library of the University of Amsterdam.

Conceived as a second home for students, the new library includes study rooms, workspaces, an information centre, a canteen and an automated collection area for books.

Study areas include kitchen-style tables for students to gather around with chesterfield sofas and tree-stumps as seating.

Books are stored elsewhere and ordered digitally, then collected at any time from 1,105 crates housed in red cases.

Photographs are by Roelof Mulder & Ira Koers.

Here's some more information from the designers:


New interior for the University Library of the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

A library whose decor no longer consists of books has been turned into a ‘home’ in which to study.

The UvA’s enormous collection of books is kept in closed repositories, book depots and at various open locations.

A growing number of students, anywhere from 1500 to 5000, visit the University Library every day in order to study and pick up their digitally ordered books.

Despite plans for a new building in the future, the university wished to have a new, temporary interior design for the 2500 m2 space that would comprise study rooms plus 235 extra workspaces, the canteen, the information centre with its desk, the hallways, and an automated lending area.

To offer students a good second home, we wanted to achieve two important things: a space like the white page of a book where the students themselves would play the main role in determining how it is filled in, and in certain areas a domestic atmosphere where the students could also study informally.

For instance, in one of the study rooms you will find a number of kitchen tables where you can work in groups under the lamp, a chesterfield couch for reading a newspaper, various sitting areas for a short break and special telephone areas in the hallways between the quiet study rooms.

The columns in the canteen are transformed into illuminated trees with low energy light bulbs.

Until recently, borrowed books could only be picked up at the library desk during office hours.

Now the students can pick up their ordered books themselves in a newly designed red room that is open until midnight, including weekends.

In red cases with 1105 red crates, piles of books lie ready for the borrowers. Because these books come from different locations, this is the heart of the University Library, with a back office hidden from view in which the books are readied for self-service with the RFID system.

Name of project: University Library of the University of Amsterdam

Client/location: University of Amsterdam
Address: Singel 425
Postal code: 1012 WP
City: Amsterdam
Country: The Netherlands

Floor area (m2: 2300 m2
Date of completion: August 2009

Design: Studio Roelof Mulder & bureau Ira Koers

Posted on Monday November 30th 2009 at 4:45 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Paul

    Nice! Ordered, logical and fun.

  • Evan

    Call me a romantic, but the storage system totally does away with the physciality of book browsing. Though I suppose that’s a good thing for a University library, increases productivity.

    Overall great design though, nice to see the spatial potential of RFID systems.

  • Ma

    what! no books on shelves! the countless times i found a classic read by rummaging through bookshelves, being drawn to a dusty book jacket or quirky title. Nothing will ever replace the classic library experience, the smell of the books, the sound insulation and warmth from hundreds of books, the stacks of books people brace in their arms. This has got to be the most stale, uninspiring library experience, students might as well use google-books. I can’t believe we champion such ordered, logical, virtual, unstimulating environments. I might as well kill myself now.

  • Josh

    can they write on the white walls?

  • jbb

    esthetic arrangement of simple things
    i like this and the banker too

  • harry

    Well I don’t know….

  • Samantha

    Love the Revolt chirs

  • pretty cool, love them all particularly the crate idea and the explosive orange colours, nice.

  • Nacho

    no bookshelves =/= library
    it’s good to see a modern spin in certain areas, but half of the times i go to my college’s library is to see what books they have on first sight, with no real idea of what i want in mind. this kind of disrupts the flow of what i’m used to do

  • Lyndon

    It would be nice to see it occupied, to judge it’s success. It is visually attractive, but doesn’t really seem inviting like a “home.” As a bookless library though, i like it.

  • Bozo


    Looks like the matrix gun rack

  • yrag

    Everything works really well to me— strategic dashes of color against the pure white— except— the scream of the red bins on the red walls; balance then goes completely out the window. What happened there?

  • heather’s damage

    That is the most Sci-Fi looking library I’ve seen yet.

    Present, meet future.

  • Ginger

    I totally love those glowing scarlet boxes, however where’s the love in the rest of the building? feels a little incomplete…

  • catarina clemente

    No books on shelves? I can’t feel that is a library…nice building, but could be something else, not a library…

  • this is just too cold for a library…… i personally love the feeling of reading/studying in a comforting, warm place….this is painfully distracting….and makes me feel like its a medical storage facility more tan a library…great design, undoubtedly…but not for a library.