By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.


Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Associated Architects reveals Birmingham Uni library plans

[First look + project data] Associated Architects has unveiled these proposals for a new £51.1 million digital library and cultural gateway for the University of Birmingham

The 14,068m² scheme, which is still at feasibility stage, will house 2,000 study spaces ‘in group, single study, and IT clusters’, 15km of shelving, a post-graduate hub, café and exhibition space.

Close to the Aston Webb Building, the ‘flagship’ library is part of the Universiy’s wider £175 million transformation of its Edgbaston campus which includes a new sports centre designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and S&P Architects.

The project was won via an OJEU in 2009.

The architect’s view

The building is deliberately modern rather than being over influenced by the historic context. The building’s façade will reflect the aspirations to maximise views in and out and achieve the optimum levels of daylight to produce the very best study environment possible. 

A series of stone frames run along the principle entrance façade facing east, these rise to second floor and offer shading to the elevation as well as a well-proportioned composition. They turn the corner running south to reinforce the edge of the site into the central campus.  The importance of the south-east corner adjacent university centre is emphasised by the introduction of splayed stone columns enhanced with brick reveal linings. The reveals are aligned to the University clock tower and to maximise views towards the Aston Webb buildings. Glass solar shading louvers are integrated into the stone framework adding a layer of detail to the elevations. The third floor is deliberately set back to provide a top and reduce the overall height of the building relating to University centre. To recognise the building entrance a glazed lantern extends out of the stone framework.

An atrium is deliberately expressed in the composition at each end with full glazing. In plan this part is set back to form a recess the southern recess is an entrance into the building. Vertical stair cores are also expressed on the façade. To the west, the diagonal elevation is treated as a cut line with further expressing vertical building elements, connected with glazing allowing the floor edges to be exposed.



Project data

Architects: Associated Architects
Location: Birmingham
Type Of Project: Higher Education - University Library
Structural Engineers: Ove ARUP (Blythe Valley Birmingham) David Storer
Project Architect: Warren Jukes, project director
Design Team: Simon Jesson, Spencer John, Michelle Williams, Tim Cornbill, Joe Belcher
Client: Library Services University of Birmingham - Diane Job, director of Library Services
Funding: University of Birmingham
Tender date: January 2013
Start on site date: Summer 2013
Contract duration: 24 months - completion summer 2015
Gross internal floor area: 14,068m²
Form of contract and/or procurement: Single Stage Design & Build 
Total cost: £51.1 million gross budget - £37 million net construction cost     
M&E consultant:
Couch Perry Wilkes LLP (Birmingham) Richard Swannick
Quantity surveyor: To be appointed via the University Framework
Planning supervisor: TBA
Lighting consultant: Couch Perry Wilkes 
Annual co2 emissions: BREEAM Excellent & EPC A Rating
Building Energy Use: Target 55% reduction on the existing 2,655,270kWh per year
Building CO2 Emissions: Target 55% reduction on existing 947 tonnes per year

Readers' comments (1)

  • It's white (always a winner in the British climate)... It's unencumbered internally (the ideal echo-free ambience)... And it has vertical concrete pillars (but no bars on the wondows)... Could it be anything other than a University library?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related Jobs

Sign in to see the latest jobs relevant to you!

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters