A look around the Röling building

The law faculty is moving out

The first employees get to move in in September, but for now, the new Röling building is still fully under construction. UKrant had a look around to find the best office.
Text by René Hoogschagen, video by Rianne Aalbers
15 March om 11:52 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 15 March 2023
om 11:52 uur.
March 15 at 11:52 AM.
Last modified on March 15, 2023
at 11:52 AM.

Right behind the iron gate, where you always had to make sure to remove your bike before closing time or you wouldn’t be able to get it until the next day, the base of a giant crane is blocking the entrance to the Röling building, the former public library at the Oude Boteringestraat.

The side door that used to lead to Belcampo, the library’s café, now serves as the main entrance. While the fun texts on the wall remain, the rest of the room has been turned into the construction site’s headquarters, with blueprints on the walls, schematics on computer screens, long tables with empty coffee cups, and boxes full of equipment. The floor looks like it could use a good clean.

But this drastic renovation of the old library is needed to turn it into the Faculty of Law’s home base. Right now, the law and arts faculties are scattered across the Harmonie complex and various other buildings in the city. ‘All the chickens are finally coming home to roost’, jokes project leader Ingeborg Hollak with the UG’s real estate department. 

All the chickens are coming home to roost

‘You could also say that the law faculty is finally moving out’, Hanneke van den Berg, the faculty’s portfolio manager, says, laughing. Just to be safe, we’re taken on a tour by Lisette Barels with construction company Visser and Smit Bouw, decked out in white helmets, safety vests, and steel-toed boots.


Construction is still fully underway. There are building materials everywhere, sparks fly off a grinder, and there’s a distinct smell of welding in the air. Tape blocks off the spaces where the interior is still being stripped. 

Unlike many staff and students, Van den Berg doesn’t remember the dark green and yellow paint that’s still on the walls in some places. When she studied here, the library was still under construction, and she didn’t return to the city until it had moved to the Forum. But even if you came here a lot you would hardly recognise the place: where the reservation desk used to be is now a big hole, to make room for a wide set of stairs into the basement.

To the left of the stairs is another hole, this time in the ceiling. There’s another hole in the ceiling above that, and another above that, all the way to the top floor. Interestingly enough, the loss of floor space will actually lead to more office space, Hollak explains. Health and safety regulations dictate that offices always need natural light. The large windows that have been installed in the new patio’s walls let in more daylight.

Meeting rooms

The large library floors have essentially been turned into two hallways. One with a single row of offices and one with offices on either side, as well as a few meeting rooms and rooms for phone calls. At the end, the two hallways meet in a lounge. After all, relaxation and socialisation is important too, says Van den Berg.

They had to chip off the old roof cladding bit by bit

The small meeting rooms and phone rooms are there for privacy and quiet; single offices will be a rarity in the new building. The faculty might be becoming independent, but staff will have to share offices with one, two, or even three roommates, in spite of the extra storey on top of the building.

In fact, the property has already become too small to house the entire faculty because it hired sixty new employees. A few months ago, the faculty board boasted during a faculty council meeting that there were now fewer than forty students for each staff member. But the faculty still needs space in other buildings.

There are plans for a large new educational facility for the bigger faculties in the city centre, but no one yet knows where, says Hollak. ‘It depends on what is going to happen to the Harmonie.’ Tear it down and put up a new building in its place, maybe? 



The old roof cladding posed a problem, by the way, says Hollak. ‘It was glued onto the concrete, which meant it had to be chipped off piece by piece before we could build the new storey.’ This caused a six-week delay.

Finding the correct bricks for the new structure also turned out to be a challenge. Giorgio Grassi, the building’s original architect, wanted the extra storey, which he’d in fact always wanted even though people didn’t think it was necessary, to have the same colour as the rest of the building. Unfortunately, the company that manufactured the bricks thirty years ago, had gone bankrupt.  

To complicate matters even more, says Hollak, ‘one façade had more discolouration than the other one.’ In a worst-case scenario, Grassi could have prevented the construction of the new storey. In the end, a solution was found: impregnating the bricks. There’s still a small difference in colour, but the bricks will be treated a second time. ‘You won’t be able to see it in a bit.’

Moot court

Once the renovation is finished, the basement will house a mock courtroom rather than the children’s book collection. In this ‘moot court’, students will be able to practise arguing cases. ‘We’re installing a thick glass wall’, says Hollak, to prevent the noise from the coffee shop one floor up from being a bother. But that wall can also be removed when the room is needed for presentations, among other things. The stairs can serve as a gallery.

You won’t be able to see the colour difference in the bricks in a bit

The moot court will be surrounded by offices to house the study associations. None of this is finished yet; the basement is nothing but bare walls. We also can’t take a look at the ‘common room’, since the old interior is still being stripped.

The windowless part of the basement will become bike storage with room for 350 to 400 bikes, says Hollak. 


Back upstairs, several of the offices have already been carpeted, and the window frames are a lovely oak. Van den Berg calls the style ‘Nordic’. She and the board will have offices on the second floor.

She will miss out on the spectacular view afforded by room 0402 in the new storey, on the corner of the north wing. It looks out over nearly the entire city centre. On the left is the UMCG, a little to the right reveals the balconies of brand-new apartment complex Mercado, and even farther right are the Martini tower and the Vindicat building.  

But the view from the south-facing side isn’t bad either, says Barels. ‘You can see the Groninger Museum and the train station. That’s pretty cool, too’, she says. That side even has a small office for one: room 0489. For the person who really, really likes their privacy.