Universitary library

Singel 427
J. Leupen - Publieke Werken
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Tram 1-4-5-16-20-24-25
Al de gebouwen van de universiteit van Amsterdam, Hilde de Haan, Ids Haagsma, Architext Haarlem, 2000.
Cultuur, Onderwijs

Library Building for the University of Amsterdam

The site of a former church, the Sint Catharinakerk demolished in 1939, yielded land for construction of a new University Library in 1967. The design offers some conciliatory gestures towards the historic surroundings in the form of a facade with four embedded ornamental tablets and a cornice bearing two sculpted ornaments.

The first floor windows similarly attempt to line up with the adjoining buildings. The height of these windows is extended by the addition of a glass breast panel under each one, so mimicking the varying window heights that characterize Amsterdam’s canal houses. This effect is negated however by the reflective anti-sun foil which has been applied to the panels. Contemporary critics were not impressed by the building’s efforts to blend with its canalside neighbours: its scale alone would make that impossible. The building, which is extremely large for this location, reaches from Singel to Handboogsteeg at the rear. Since the interior is largely occupied by shelves of books, much of the building is inaccessible to the public. The lending desk, a few study halls and a canteen form the exceptions. (ARCAM/VK)