Like all the buildings on campus Woudestein, the outside of the brand new Polak building is rectangular. How it differs from the older buildings: much more glass, intersected by straight white lines and a continuous glass facade on the ground floor. Inside, you could be in one of M.C. Escher’s lithographs: endless wooden stairs which all seem to be connected.

Besides stairs, the public areas of the new campus building also feature lounge corners, benches and even beanbags. According to the architects from Paul de Ruiter, the design is a ‘flexible structure’. The interior and exterior blend into each other wherever possible. From the bottom of the big wooden staircase, which can also be used as seating, you look directly up at the flat roof of the building, which is made up of light-giving squares topped with solar panels.

Natural ventilation

Besides being an architectural masterpiece, the building has also been sustainably constructed, reflecting the mood of the current era. Ventilation occurs as naturally as possible and the building is fitted with geothermal heat pumps and heat storage. Furthermore, because of the open central area and glass facade, lighting is not usually necessary during the day.

In April 2014, construction of the ‘multifunctional education building’ began. In May, the first piles were driven into the ground for the foundations and in September of that year, the first floor was completed. Two months later, the highest point was reached. Before New Year, the roof was on. The first half of 2015 was used to install solar panels, perform finishing and complete the interior design of the Polak building.

The Polak building includes 900 study places, a lecture hall for 260 students and teaching rooms. The Data Service Centre and many of the UL services are also accommodated here. The building is surrounded by numerous shops in the Erasmus Shopping Plaza. Some of these shops used to be based in the V building. Hairstyle by Lydia, employment agency Randstad, reproshop Canon and the Studystore have moved to the new building. The launderette Wash & Go, Campus Store and parcel collection centre De Buren are new to the campus.

Lighter, more spacious, better organised

The renovation of the University Library started immediately after the opening of the Polak building on 31 August. The former study area of the UL looks desolate. Bookshelves are empty, computers are disconnected and piled on top of desks. Until 2017, a totally new interior will be designed which is lighter, more spacious and better organised. A new main entrance will also be created on Institutenlaan.

Until it reopens, the functions of the University Library will be transferred to the Polak building and the V building. Information is available in the Polak building, and some of the collection will be housed there too, including the ‘study landscape’ of the Faculty of Social Sciences on the fourth floor. The lending desk and the Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet will now be housed in the V building.