Associated Architects’ 2009 feasibility study concluded that a new building rather than refurbishment would best meet this Russell Group University’s needs. The demolition of the deficient 1950s library will create a ‘green heart’ to the campus, improving both site circulation and the setting of the historic buildings. The new Library has a colonnaded front to this open space at the natural centre of the University.
The plan is bisected by a central street running north-south. 16,000sq.m of floor space is arranged over six levels with a series of lightwells running through the building. A café and new exhibition/events space to showcase research at the University are located on the Ground floor. Energy use will be reduced by around 50% helping the University achieve its 20% CO2 reduction by 2020.
The new building has a contextual modern aesthetic, a contemporary but respectful neighbour to the listed Aston Webb buildings. A high level of glazing maximises views in and out, achieving optimum day-lighting to quiet perimeter study areas. Windows are set within a regular framework of stone with brick infill. Glass louvres provide solar shading and add a layer of detail to the elevations. Other materials are aluminium and zinc cladding. The importance of the corner beside the University Centre is emphasised by angled stone columns with brick linings orientated to the landmark University clock tower.
Client: University of Birmingham
Project Value: £42m
Feasibility Study: 2009