During the years since the construction of the Bedford Library at Royal Holloway’s Egham campus in 1994, the student population has grown from 2,400 to 9,000. The University knew that this rise in numbers needed to be matched by an increase in the level and quality of library and student services.
Following a feasibility study, we were appointed in 2015 to design and deliver the 10,000sq.m building expansion to the University’s library provision. The new flagship library and student services centre has been named the Emily Wilding Davison Building, in honour of one of Britain’s most famous suffragettes, and Royal Holloway alumna. This new facility will support the students during their time at the University, providing them with a state-of-the-art modern library and wide range of student services.
The site is steeped in history. Adjacent to the Emily Wilding Building is the impressive Gothic Revival Grade I Listed Founders Building, an imposing structure completed in 1881 by William Crossland. In response to this, we have ensured that the Emily Wilding Building doesn’t exceed three storeys above ground, preserving the intangible heritage of the local environment. We have built a basement floor into the sloping site, maximising the useable space and allowing high levels of daylight penetration into the new building.
A central ‘street’ cuts through the heart of the Ground floor, with a careers zone, student services, retail unit, bank, a cafe and gallery located off it. The library area spans across the Ground, First and Second floors. Impressive vistas to the Founders Building and landscape beyond create an inspiring study environment. The library will hold the University’s extensive and unique archive in purpose-built storage space to PD5454, ensuring preservation for future generations. An exhibition space will allow the University to display elements of their collection and research work.
Our design is as respectful as it is striking; a contemporary complement to the surrounding buildings and landscape. A key feature throughout has been the inclusion of sustainability measures, ranging from photovoltaic panels on the roof, Passivhaus levels of air tightness and high thermal insulation, and PIR controlled LED lighting. These elements have secured a predicted EPC rating of A and BREEAM Excellent.