Incorporating 4.2 million books, 1,000 seats, 450 parking places, 300 workstations, 3 shops, 1 auditorium and 1 bar – the UBU, comparable to a data recorder, is more than a place where people can consult books, it is a place where they can work in a concentrated fashion, but also one where they can meet other people without the need of any other stimulation except the atmosphere that the building radiates.
Glass and concrete panels clad the volumes of the building. The glass panels are printed with a repetitive image of a papyrus plant. Papyrus – a traditional material used in paper production – derives etymologically from the Greek byblos, which also serves as the root for words such as bibliography, bibliophile, and – in Dutch – Bibliotheek, or library. The papyrus image is replicated on each glass panel, allowing the façade to perform as a curtain which veils the library while also making subtle allusion to the nature of the program within. The pattern printed facade also mitigates sunlight entering the building, protecting the library’s printed materials. The pattern, which is also cast into the concrete panels of the exterior and interior walls, carries the allegorical motif into the various programs of the library.