Page 1

‘Pateo omnibus, ut quam plurimis prosim’


University Library City Centre

grosfeld van der velde architecten i.s.m. dhv


‘I am open to all, so that I may be of benefit to as many people as possible’

1 The University Library in the Academic World


1 The University Library

in the Academic World

The Utrecht city library was founded in1584. The collection consisted of works confiscated by the city from Utrecht’s convents and monasteries during the Reformation. When the University opened in 1636, the city library became a University Library. In the course of the centuries the library became fragmented and broke up into countless different institute and faculty libraries. In the 1980s, work began on reunification. The University Library City Centre is part of the University Quarter in the centre of Utrecht. Along with the University Library Uithof in the heart of the Utrecht Science Campus, the City Centre Library is another high-quality study and meeting location for the academic community. Naturally, the digital services at the City Centre Library are available 24/7, ensuring that scientific information is available anytime and anywhere in electronic format.

As a partner in science, the Library provides researchers, lecturers and students with optimum, state-of-the-art support services. The priority consideration in the provision of those services is always the motto that is carved in stone at the entrance to the University Library City Centre: Pateo omnibus, ut quam plurimis prosim (‘I am open to all, so that I may be of benefit to as many people as possible’).

Above 

Situation of the University Library City Center. The U-shaped complex forms an important part of the University Quarter.

Below 

Facade of Drift after reconstruction.


The chapel.


1 The University Library

in the Academic World

View of the book depot, from the courtyard.


1 The University Library

in the Academic World

Top 

The chapel.

Above 

View of the book depot, from the chapel.

Right page 

View towards the entrance hall.


1 The University Library

in the Academic World


Above 

Study room, second floor at Drift.

Left page 

at Drift.

Study room, first floor


The Grande Galerie was not completed until the King had already left

2 History of the Drift Complex


2 History of the

Drift Complex

In 2004, the Central Library moved from the city centre to the Uithof where it merged with a number of faculty libraries. What was then the arts library stayed behind in the historic building complex between Drift and Wittevrouwenstraat. It was quickly obvious how run down the buildings were and that renovation was urgently needed. It was therefore decided to merge the arts and law libraries into one city centre library. Extensive alterations and modernisation followed. The complex between Drift and Wittevrouwen­ straat has its own colourful history. Since 1393, when the Drift Canal was originally built, history has seen wave after wave of new buildings, alterations, extensions, demolitions, rebuilding, renovations, embellishments, moderation, neglect and refurbishment once again. The history of the city resonates in these buildings.

The Grande Galerie From 1806 to 1810, Louis Bonaparte was King of Holland. He chose Utrecht as his royal seat in 1807, hoping that the climate in Utrecht would be better for his health than the sea air in Amsterdam. The King bought a number of buildings, including some next to Drift, for his palace. He also had new buildings constructed: a ballroom, the Grande Galerie, and a royal chapel. Bonaparte’s palace was completed quickly under the direction of architect J.D. Zocher Sr., but the King did not live there for long. The Grande Galerie was not completed until the King had already left again.

Above 

Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland (The Utrecht Archives, cat. no. 104100).


Below 

The southern street frontage of Wittevrouwenstraat in 1806. 19th-century print by D. van Lokhorst (The Utrecht Archives, cat. no. 36116). With the exception of both corner houses, this row of houses was demolished to make way for the construction of Louis Bonaparte’s palace. Adjacent to the Taets van Amerongen House (far left) is the coach house of one of the houses on Drift.


2 History of the

Drift Complex

After the departure of King Louis Bonaparte, the buildings that constituted his palace were assigned to the University Library. The library started to use this complex in 1820. Many alterations followed.

The Grande Galerie first fell into disrepair, before being refurbished a few decades later. It was then almost completely demolished once again to reflect the change in taste: an engineer from the public works department declared in 1864 that this facade ‘was built in bygone days without any understanding whatsoever of good taste.’ In 2009, the Grande Galerie was reopened to the public for the first time in a long time. Its former grandeur had returned.

Left  Drawing including the facades of the houses 29 to 25 on Drift, Utrecht. The white building is being used to house the museum collection of the Agricultural Equipment Office (Kabinet van landbouwwerktuigen). Anonymous drawing, copy of the drawing by Karel Hanau, 1899: a reconstruction of the situation before 1881, when the museum was converted into archives (The Utrecht Archives, cat. no. 32868).


Below 

Drawing of the facades of the houses on the south side of Wittevrouwenstraat in Utrecht. The names of the residents are included under the houses. Several of these houses were demolished in 1807 to make way for the construction of the palace of the King of Holland. The drawing probably dates to ca. 1835 and depicts the situation in 1807 (The Utrecht Archives, cat. no. 27506).

Far below  View of the buildings on Wittevrouwenstraat shortly after the alterations of 1834. Drawing by L.E. Bosch, 1834 (The Utrecht Archives, cat. no. 28342). The courtyard is accessible through a gate between Wittevrouwenstraat 7 (right) and Wittevrouwenstraat 9 (left). According to this drawing, the façade of both buildings are alike, with the exception of the position of the door. However, it is not clear whether that was truly the case. There are some doubts with regards to the windows in the side wing of Wittevrouwenstraat 7. One thing is certain: the roof shape of both of the side wings is not a true representation. These buildings had low saddle roofs, as they still do today.


Left  View of the University Library warehouse and courtyard (Wittevrouwenstraat 7-11), Utrecht. The building, containing the chapel and ballroom, was part of the palace of Louis Bonaparte. Litt.: Bibl. HUA, G.A. Evers, Utrecht als koninklijke residentie: het verblijf van Lodewijk Napoleon te Utrecht (‘Utrecht as a royal residence: Louis Bonaparte’s stay in Utrecht’), 1807-1808. Bibl.HUA X B 25, G.A. Evers, Koning Lodewijk’s paleis te Utrecht (‘The King of Holland’s palace in Utrecht’) (The Utrecht Archives, cat. no. 26405).

2 History of the

Drift Complex

The inner courtyard In 1975, a pavilion was built across the entirety of the inner courtyard, blocking the view of the Grande Galerie. The pavilion was intended as a temporary emergency measure, but in the end it stayed there for 34 years. It was finally demolished in 2005. A bicycle shelter has been built under the inner courtyard.

The chapel From 1629 onwards, Rietsteeg – which was later to become Keizerstraat – was the site of a Remonstrant conventicle. The conventicle was ultimately sold and incorporated into the palace of Louis Bonaparte to serve as the royal chapel. From 1817 onwards, the primary function of the chapel was to provide storage space for books. Cast iron columns were installed and two galleries were built around the inside of the church. In 2009, the chapel was also opened to library visitors for the first time.


history has seen wave after wave of new buildings, alterations, extensions, demolitions, rebuilding, renovations, embellishments, moderation, neglect and refurbishment


2 History of the

Drift Complex

The most beautiful house in all of Utrecht

The Taets van Amerongen House stood on the corner of Wittevrouwenstraat and Keizerstraat at the end of the 18th century. At the time, it was considered the greatest and most beautiful house in all of Utrecht. The King lived there between November 1807 and January 1808, pending the completion of his palace. In 1811, Emperor Bonaparte still had his supper there. A few years later, part of the building burnt down during the celebration of the liberation of the Netherlands from French rule. The remaining wing housed a private residence and several rooms belonging to the University. In 1905, the last remnants of the Taets van Amerongen House were demolished and replaced by the University Library’s main building and book depository, which were designed by the national architect Van Lokhorst. The arrangement, structure and organisation of the book depository have remained complete and intact since the depository was first occupied in 1909.

Wittevrouwenstraat 9 The second pavilion, to the left of the gate, has served a variety of purposes over the years, including a period as a dental surgery (1895). The extension housed a lecture room on the ground floor, an outpatients’ clinic on the first floor and a doorkeeper’s flat in the attic. The building was home to various different faculties: the Art History Institute (1913) and the Psych­ ology Laboratory (since 1922). In the 1980s, the building was part of the library block and connected to the main library building on the corner of Keizerstraat as well as the temporary pavilion in the inner courtyard.


Right  View of the facades of the houses on the southern side of Wittevrouwenstraat. On the left is the entrance to Rietsteeg (the name Rietsteeg is an old name for the northern part of Keizerstraat) and Wittevrouwenstraat (right). In the foreground is the walled garden of the Taets van Amerongen House (with a garden pavilion?), the Taets van Amerongen House and Wittevrouwenstraat 9 and 7. Drawing by Anthonie Grolman, 3 December 1897 (The Utrecht Archives, cat. no. 39461).

Left  View of the buildings on Wittevrouwenstraat before the alterations in 1834. Drawing by L.E. Bosch, 1834 (The Utrecht Archives, cat. no. 28341). The courtyard is fenced off by a long iron fence with two double gates. On the left of the fence is the Corps de Garde. On the right is part of the service wing. The Taets van Amerongen House is on the far right. Here it is depicted in its diminished form, after the fire of 1814.


3 Timeline 1806

Architect J.D. Zocher sr. designs a palace in Utrecht for Louis Bonaparte. Drift 27 to 31 and all of the buildings on Wittevrouwenstraat through to Rietsteeg are bought up to accommodate the palace. This includes the Remonstrant conventicle on Rietsteeg, which is demolished.

1807

In January, Louis Bonaparte moves in to the palace (Drift side). The chapel is also used.

1807-’08

The new Grande Galerie is built.

1808

1816

1834

The Military Court (Militair Gerechtshof) moves to Drift 31. The National Agricultural Cabinet (Rijkslandbouwkabinet) occupies Drift 27.

The gate buildings are put up for public sale.

In April, Louis Bonaparte departs for Amsterdam.

1800

1810

1820

1809

In July, the Grande Galerie is completed.

1811

1820

The University takes over the building complex and turns it into a library: the ballroom becomes the ‘great book hall’.

Emperor Bonaparte and Marie-Louise stay in the palace in Utrecht from 6 to 9 October.

1814

Tsar Alexander of Russia is welcomed at the palace on 5 July. The Taets van Amerongen house burns down during the celebration of the liberation of the Netherlands from French rule.

1830

1840

1850


1905

The last remnants of the burnt out Taets van Amerongen House (corner of Wittevrouwenstraat/ Keizerstraat) are demolished and replaced by the University Library’s main building and book depository, which were designed by the national architect Van Lokhorst.

1881

Following the abolition of the National Agricultural Cabinet, Drift 27 is converted into the Municipal and National Archive (Gemeentelijk- en Rijksarchief).

1860

1870

1880

1890

1900

1910 1909

The Library starts to use the book depository.

1895

The University becomes the owner of Drift 29, although probably only the front part of the house facing onto the street.


3 Timeline

1968

The Municipal and National Archive relocates and Drift 27 passes into the hands of the State University of Utrecht.

1921

The University buys Drift 31.

1920

1930

1940

1950

1960

1970


1975

A pavilion is built in the inner courtyard.

2006

Alteration work starts on the Wittevrouwen complex, including an archaeological investigation.

1986

2005

Drift 25 up to and including Drift 31 are merged into the Faculty of Arts Library.

1980

1990

The pavilion in the inner courtyard is demolished.

2000

2012

REBO collection relocates to the renovated Wittenvrouwen complex.

2010 2009

Opening of the University Library City Centre.

2020


Meticulous Redesignation Of The Wittevrouwen Complex In Utrecht

4 New Grandeur


Right page The Grande Galerie.

4 New Grandeur

Design

The former working palace of Louis Bonaparte, in the historical city centre of Utrecht, was extensively refurbished and renovated between 2007 and 2012. This so-called Wittevrouwen complex was given a new identity and became the dominant image of the city centre campus of Utrecht University. The basic principle of the architectural design was to create a natural meeting place for education and research, staff and students, University and city – a place where the students and books take centre stage. The building complex is a chain of six nationally listed buildings that have mainly served as book depositories and archives. The many alterations through the centuries had largely hidden the original structure and the specific qualities of the buildings from view. The individual listed buildings were peeled back to their initial characteristics. Areas clearly separated from each other emerged in each part of a building. This made it obvious where the various functions should be housed.

The additional architectural interventions were conservative and blended with the existing shell. At the same time, the aim was to further enhance already existing qualities and to set them in a new light by introducing new perspectives, reinforcing current rhythms or revaluating forgotten prestigious elements. The new entrance at Drift gives access to the University Library City Centre, the University restaurant and the underground bicycle shelter in the courtyard of the Wittevrouwen complex. Drift 27 was returned to its original height, thereby restoring harmony to the street frontage. The main entrance takes up a natural place in the rhythm of the existing wall openings on Drift.


Below 

Ground floor plan of the University Library City Centre.

4 New Grandeur

Wittevrouwenstraat 9

W itte v r o uwenstraat

‘Hoofdgebouw’ (Main Building)

Grand Gate Drift 31

Bicycle storage

K eizerstraat

Drift 29

Book Depot

Drift 27 Courtyard Drift

Main Entrance

Entrance Hall

Grande Galerie

Chapel


Below 

First floor plan of the University Library City Centre.

Far below  Second floor plan of the University Library City Centre.


4 New Grandeur

View from the courtyard, towards the book depot.

View from the courtyard, towards the grand gate.

View from the courtyard, towards the Grande Galerie.


A longitudinal section of the Grande Galerie.

View from Drift.

View from the courtyard, towards Drift 27.


Left 

Main entrance at Drift.

Right page 

The inner courtyard where the book depot meets the Grande Galerie.

4 New Grandeur

A new entrance welcomes visitors coming from Drift. The grand Wittevrouwen gate marks the access to the courtyard which links the ­different buildings in the Wittevrouwen complex together. Recycled clinkers create a square that belongs in the city centre of Utrecht and freestone elements give the square a whole new identity, all in all creating a square that is ideal for prestigious events. The elongated seating offers intimacy and the large, light trees add a friendly appearance to the location. The square’s simple design, by Karres en Brands, ensures that attention is not drawn away from the diversity of the different building styles.


4 New Grandeur


The creator, PUUR Interieurarchitecten, opted for clear use of materials, details and colour schemes to develop a feeling of calm and unity. The use of white as a neutral and clear basis is a characteristic feature. The books and the people add colour and a certain dynamic to the complex. The University restaurant is one of the standout features because of the more distinct use of materials, as a supplement to the reticent shell. This use of materials emphasises the diversity of the rooms that together form the restaurant.

Above  Het Kabinet in restaurant Lodewijk. Left page 

De Salon in restaurant Lodewijk.


4 New Grandeur


The use of white as a neutral and clear basis is a characteristic feature


Above 

Hallway on the top floor from the old staircase of Drift 27 .

Left page 

The central void with the characteristic light at Drift 27.


4 New Grandeur

Above 

The installations and the interior were approached as an integral part of the architecture. This approach resulted in inventive solutions with cable ducts as architectural features and armouring that has become an inseparable part of the ceiling system. Study tables, consultation desks, counters and bookcases are fully integrated into the architectural design. In some typically grand areas the fittings are indiscernible.

The study places are largely located next to the facade, while the collection is in an open arrangement at a right angle to the facade. This layout makes the building light and transparent and invites interaction. The result is a studious and atmospheric working environment where students can wander through the collection and where space is available for meetings and informal contact.

Split level view of Drift 27.


Left  New connection towards the basement of the book depot.

4

Right page The Grande Galerie under construction.

New Grandeur

Implementation The redesignation of the Wittevrouwen complex was divided into two periods. Originally, the assignment consisted of redesignation of the current entrance lobby, Grande Galerie and ­adjacent buildings into a new Arts Library with a central entrance lobby on Drift. Following a ­feasibility study, the University decided to add Drift 27-31 to the complex. Several libraries were merged into one large University Library City Centre with a restaurant on the ground floor at Drift level. This addition changed the logistics of the Grande Galerie. The architect and the contractor therefore completely redesigned and reworked the details of the Grande Galerie and the entrance lobby within a short space of time. While the final details were

still being completed, work started on the buildings up to and including the Chapel. Phase 1 was ready in 2009. After that, Drift 27-31 was delivered in 2012. The foundations were the most complex aspect of the implementation of both phase 1 and phase 2. In phase 1, an underground passage was built under the Grande Galerie to link the bicycle shelter with the entrance lobby. In phase 2, pile-driving was carried out in and between the grand vaults to provide the necessary foundations. The stability of the protracted Grande Galerie also proved to be a complex issue while the construction work was in progress. The wall structure of the longitudinal facades was fully re-anchored and the roof was fitted with steel windbracing integrated into the existing structure of wooden trussed rafters and steel supports.


4 New Grandeur

The Grande Galerie under construction.


Below 

4 New Grandeur

Basement of the book depot.

Right page 

Galerie.

Top floor of the Grande


4 New Grandeur


Below 

Entrances from the garden.

Left page 

View towards the entrance hall.


Above 

Looking back at the Voorkamer.

Left page 

Entrance of restaurant Lodewijk.


Left 

Old staircase next to the inner courtyard of Drift 29.

Below 

Top floor Drift 31.

Right page 

View towards inner courtyard Drift 29.


Detail of old construction. Left page 

The void with a view towards the new staircase of Drift 27.


Above 

New staircase of Drift 27.

Right  Additional new staircase above the old staircase of Drift 27. Left page 

New staircase of Drift 27.


Entrance hall, with original entrance Drift 27. Right page 

View of the staircase leading to the first floor and Drift 27.


University Quarter Utrecht University has long had close ties with Utrecht city centre. The University has countless, often grand buildings spread right across the city centre. A large number of the University’s faculties are currently accommodated in the Uithof. The Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance remain in the city centre. In 2004-2005, the University decided to concentrate the University buildings around Janskerkhof and Domplein. Based on this decision, the Property & Campus Department then worked out the details of the relocation of the faculties. Utrecht University decided to develop a single joint University Library and study centre on Drift. This combined facility comprises approx. 13.5 km of books, approx. 750 study places, a University restaurant and an underground bicycle shelter. The University Library is the beating heart of the University Quarter, specifically for the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance. Investing in the modernisation of the facilities in the buildings and in the outdoor space creates a dynamic area of the city with a clear identity of its own, ­available to all of Utrecht University. This is truly an icon of Utrecht University in the University Quarter.


Utrecht University Library

Architecture Utrecht University Library

Grosfeld van der Velde Architecten i.s.m. DHV Interior Design University Restaurant Lodewijk

PUUR interieurarchitecten Design Courtyard

Karres en Brands

Š 2013

Grosfeld van der Velde architecten i.s.m. DHV Utrecht University Library Universiteit Utrecht, Vastgoed & Campus Book Design

Flowdesign.nl Photography

Dennis Sies RenĂŠ de Wit Wouter Koster Hans van Leeuwen Lithography & Printing

Vandenberg Binding

Boekbinderij Callenbach van Wijk


‘I am open to all, so that I may be of benefit to as many people as possible’ grosfeld van der velde architecten i.s.m. dhv

University Library City Centre  

Photo book commemorating the new architecture for the University Library in Utrecht’s city centre.

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