Total make over

The Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (rmo) has restructured and transformed its portfolio of buildings. Various public exposition spaces and the “backoffice” are redeveloped, the office space on Rapenburg has been let to third parties. In this transformation Syb van Breda & Co architects has made the design for a new library and flexible workspaces. Our design uses the existing buildings in a smart and sustainable way.

A rearrangement of books

The old library was an ocean of “old fashioned” book cases, containing specialist literature for researchers. The floor of the library was originally built for heavy weight storage. This allowed us to replace the book cases by a (heavy) rolling archive, reducing the area needed significantly, whilst doubling the book storage capacity. The rolling archive has been placed in the middle of the library space, surrounded by the new reception, study places for visitors and eight new staff working places replacing the divested offices.


Interior design

The original library had almost no daylight, as this is detrimental to the volatile old books. Now that they have been carefully stowed in the rolling archive light is no problem anymore. It proved to be technically and financially viable to add windows and remove light blocking screens. The study tables and offices are now blessed with abundant daylight. The reception is a multifunctional object, with working space for three people and a large square table with an attached lens for studying very large folio’s. The study places have been designed as a continuous sequence of sitting and standing places under beautiful northern light. The ambiance in the library is crisp and clean, with light colored wooden furniture. Making the mostly beautiful old books extra special.



Year2012 - 2016
TypologyEducation, transformation
LocationLeiden, NL
ClientNational Museum of Antiquities
CollaborationBouwbureau De Wilde, Schouten en Muis, Langezaal en Inniger
ArchitectsSyb van Breda, Tom de Weijer, Maikel Waterdrinker