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In the context of sustainability, the Library has asked the architectural firm Popma Ter Steege to develop a plan to use surplus furniture in a smart circular way.
Old bookshelf becomes a sustainable table.

In preparation for the move of the University Library to the University Quarter, the Library has old Stabilux bookcases left over after a sliding operation on the UB Singel and Library P.C. Hoofthuis. This classic was designed in 1955 by Friso Kramer for Ahrend. Because the Library is increasingly developing as a place for meeting and sharing (digital) knowledge, the physical collection is less often physically consulted and partly moved to depots. Despite the good design, the cabinets appear to have become partly superfluous.

Jan Willem ter Steege of the architectural firm Popma Ter Steege came up with the proposal to upcycle the bookcases to standing tables. The idea behind it is simple; there will be a surplus of bookcases in the future, but high tables are relatively modern and poorly available in a circular way.

More reuse

Marloes van Wagtendonk, Project Manager Innovative Learning Spaces at the Library: 'The goal is to reuse as much furniture as possible and re-deploy it at other locations. In the coming years, the study places on Roeterseiland building JK (REC JK), BG5 in the University Quarter and study places in the Oudemanhuispoort (OMHP) will be developed. The Library no longer wants to purchase new furniture for this purpose, but rather reuse, upcycle or buy second-hand all current furniture.'

The design for the high table, developed in collaboration with Re-gained and produced by Fiction Factory, remains the closest to Kramer's original modular design. From the end of 2023, the UvA will use this table in the redesign of study places in the Science Park Library. One table model of 60 x 100 cm can be made from one cabinet module. The table tops also come from residual flows from the UvA. 

For the time being, money is being saved on raw materials, but design, engineering and transport costs add up to the same amount. Marloes van Wagtendonk: 'It is not a money-saving measure, but a material-saving measure.'

Also circular furniture soon in the new University Library?

Circularity and sustainability have been considered for the design of the new University Library. For example, some of the furniture will soon be moved and reused, the new furniture meets strict sustainability requirements and an extensive maintenance contract has been implemented under which all furniture is checked and refurbished annually. This significantly extends the lifespan. The furniture from the current UB is used as much as possible as raw material for circular furniture within the UvA, but could not be used for the new UB. Marloes says: 'Because the new University Library must be completed and furnished in a short time, while all other locations are still open, it is not possible to use our own furniture as a circular raw material.'

This year's Dutch Design Week will take place from 21 to 29 October. The presentation is part of the exhibition The Product Chronicles at the location of design studio Atelier NL, Bergmannstraat 76, Eindhoven. Admission to this section is free.