A number of buildings on the Oude Turfmarkt in Amsterdam have been repurposed to form the Library for the Special Collections Department of the University of Amsterdam. The interior was designed by Merkx+Girod architects, the renovation and building work was carried out by Atelier Pro architects.
Each building was approached differently. The row of buildings designed by the architect Vingboons were restored where possible; the structure of parallel bearing walls and the monumental wood floors were retained and made visible. Some of the smaller collections are displayed in the back annex. The collection’s studies have been designed in the style of club rooms. The original details of the Sint-Bernardus building had all been lost; only the front façade remained and the newly designed interior is open with a strong spatial character.
The building along the medieval river Amstelloop has been restored and now forms the office wing. The ‘gasthuispoort’ has been ‘freed’ from the surrounding buildings by use of a glass roof, and has now regained its function as main entrance.
The ground floor houses an exposition area and the café, both open to the public. On the floor above lie the studies, where the collection of rare and valuable books, manuscripts, prints and maps can be studied under supervision. On the upper floors lie the despots and safes which house the complete collection. A wall has been constructed one meter away from the original façade to prevent daylight entering the archives; a light installation on the outside wall illuminates this special function.
The housing of the exceptional collections in these monuments built in differing eras was an extremely complex process. The solution lay in exploiting the character of each of the different buildings.
The once closed complex has now been opened up; whoever now studies the book collection