In 2009 we undertook a feasibility study that concluded the University of Birmingham’s 1950’s library was out of date and required an ambitious new facility, not a refurbishment. A journey was started to deliver a building that embodied the ethos and principles of the Russell Group University and would serve as the catalyst for the creation of the campus’ green heart.
Placing the user at the centre of the design was the key requirement of the University. Our solution provides greater accessibility to the building and circulation when in it. An internal north-south street carves out quiet study spaces on the perimeter of the building, whilst the central area aims to encourage a collaborative hub of activity.
A sleek, contemporary aesthetic is reinforced by a high level of glazing, anodised aluminium external fins and a striking gold and grey colour palette.
The Library splits 17,000 sq.m of floor space over six levels. A series of lightwells run throughout, utilising optimum daylight, whilst automatic blinds respond accordingly to provide solar shading. Half of the ground floor atrium is dedicated to open access facilities, with the remainder populated by I.T facilities.
A variety of learning spaces cater to users differing needs. Video editing booths, wireless mobile charging facilities and media rooms sit alongside 62km of shelving filled with thousands of books from the University’s important collections. A below-ground reserve store houses over 1.5 million items, allowing users to access materials from a single location, with staff on hand to enable research.
The Library should be an inspirational destination, whether visited virtually or to a space at the heart of our campus. It should be where people connect with information, resources, ideas, technology, and with the creative outputs and research generated in the University but above all, where people connect with each other.
The new Library is more than a place for study and research, it is a key component of the University’s ongoing development. Its reduced energy consumption will aid the University’s required 20% drop in CO2 emissions by 2020. The cafe and events space in the ground floor provide areas for the showcasing of work and research. Seen from the canal and railway, it compliments the historic buildings of the University and acts as a marker of the heart of thriving campus.