The approval of the project for the new University Library starts the construction of a new building, located on a hill overlooking Bristol, that will create a new landmark at the centre of the University of Bristol’s Clifton Campus. In addition to providing a new home for the University’s world class collections and high quality space for researchers and students, the new University Library will open up new ways for the University to engage with the city and its communities by delivering an exciting spectrum of social, cultural and academic engagement activities in purpose-built facilities.
The publicly accessible ground floor will be a welcoming, permeable space hosting events and exhibitions that will link the communities of the University with the wider city. The setting and accessibility of the building will be enhanced by a wider redesign of the surrounding street layout and public realm, which will establish the building as a gateway to the University precinct. The proposed library building has a dynamic, stepping form that rises from three to seven storeys to negotiate a change in scale from the Victorian villas of neighbouring residential streets, to the civic and institutional buildings of the campus such as University’s Senate House.
Large scale picture windows are arranged in a regular rhythm across the façade, expanding and contracting to reveal and animate the internal activity of the building as well as provide views across the surrounding townscape and city center to the south. The building will be clad with natural limestone, arranged with a vertical emphasis that pairs with vertical fins over the windows to provide a contemporary nod to Bristol’s extensive collection of landmark buildings in the perpendicular gothic style.
Enhancements will also be made to the surrounding public realm including a new pedestrianised civic square between the NUL and refurbished Senate House, providing a welcoming sense of arrival and better connecting the area with Royal Fort Gardens. The proposed new road layouts will improve public transport and traffic flow, enhance pedestrian and cycling routes and make the whole area enjoyable, safer and accessible for everyone. In accordance with the University’s requirement for a high standard of sustainability, the library is being designed to achieve a BREEAM “Excellent” rating. Source by Hawkins/Brown, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and BuroHappold and images Courtesy of Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.