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In early 2021, the new University Library will be opening in the University Quarter. What will the interior look like? Imagine a yellow counter instead of red at which to collect requested items, study nooks amidst the stacks, lots of plants and, above all, a wide array of different study places to suit everyone’s needs.

Definitief ontwerp interieur nieuwe UB
Maarten Schumacher, Interior designer of MVSA Architects. Photo: Monique Kooijmans

The Definitive Design  marks one of the final milestones on the design road. It was preceded by a provisional design phase that gathered a wealth of input from students and staff, with, amongst other things, a Study Places Tinder survey.  This input was passed on to MVSA Architects, who translated it into a Provisional Design and subsequently into a more detailed definitive version. That final design will now be fleshed out into specifications that can be presented to the building contractor for completion of the new premises in autumn 2020.

Wide variation in study areas

The new library will be a place for meeting and knowledge transfer at every conceivable level. As well as accommodating more than seven kilometres of books, a defining feature of the design is the floorage reserved for study places – more than 1000 in all. There will be a wide array of spots to choose from, including both open and closed rooms and spaces to work alone or together, from study cells to project rooms to collaboration halls, as well as the familiar desks amid the stacks and computer workstations.

Offline room, whiteboard room and tree room

Several of the study areas are specifically designed to to support 21st-century competences and challenges. There is an offline room, for instance, where laptops and mobile phones are banned so students can work or read in absolute peace and quiet. There is also room clad completely in whiteboards to give free rein to brainstorming and discussion, and a tree room harnessing plants’ beneficial effects on learning and concentration.

Range of classrooms

The new UBA also reserves space for teaching. Lectures can be held in the former anatomical theatre, and there are three seminar rooms and a ‘sources’ room for lessons incorporating sources from the collections. On the ground floor is another room that can be booked by teachers or students to serve as a classroom or study area.

Definitief ontwerp interieur nieuwe UB
The basement with study room. Image: MVSA Architects
Definitief ontwerp interieur nieuwe UB
Ground floor with information desk on the right. Image: MVSA Architects
Definitief ontwerp interieur nieuwe UB
Impression color hallway. Image: MVSA Architects
Definitief ontwerp interieur nieuwe UB
Studying between books. Image: MVSA Architects
Definitief ontwerp interieur nieuwe UB
Study area on the top floor. Image: MVSA Architects

Pleasant surroundings

Asked to characterise the design, interior architect Maarten Schumacher of MVSA Architects responded: ‘The building’s defining, historical and listed features will remain intact, with an interior that expands on those features while adding functionality, comfort and colour. The comfortable study places, inspiring collaborative areas and inviting meeting spaces make for pleasant surroundings.’

Questions? Further information

If you’re a student or staff member with a question, tip or other input you’d like to share, please send an email to

You can find additional information about the new library on the Binnengasthuis grounds on the campus site, under University Library.