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FIRST LOOK

British Library members room completed by White Red Architects

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The 96m² room has been inspired by Colin St John Wilson and MJ Long’s choice of materials

Emerging practice White Red Architects was commissioned to design a new study space for London’s British Library after tendering for the project last year. 

A dedicated members’ space, the room features new built-in workstations and desk space for use by the members as a quiet study area.  

It is finished in a palette of durable materials featuring oak, brass and perforated plasterboard, inspired by those chosen by the original architect of the British Library.

Wra british library 35

The landmark British Library building, on Euston Road near King’s Cross, was designed by Colin St John Wilson and MJ Long and was listed at Grade I in 2016. 

Earlier this year, the British Library finally signed a development agreement deal that will kick start Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ long-awaited plans for a £1 billion addition.

View drawings, plans and data of the British Library in the AJ Buildings Library 

Architect’s view

This was a special commission for us due to our relationship with the British Library. We had spent some very intense weeks studying there when preparing for our Part 3 exams and during that time we decided to set up White Red Architects. The building is therefore very important to the studio and it has been great to work with the library and give something back.

The members room is finished in oak, brass and perforated plasterboard. The design was inspired by the palette chosen by Colin St John Wilson which is present in the rest of the British Library. The new space also references the original grid which runs through the walls, floors and ceilings, organising the workstations, lighting and floor finishes to give the room a unique character.

Joe Haire, co-founder, White Red Architects

White red architects london british library 18

Client’s view

Membership for the British Library has been available for just over two years and in that time over 10,000 members have signed up.

We asked our members how we might improve their experience and offer. One of the prevailing desires was to see a dedicated members’ quiet study area, away from the main reading rooms. The new study room is built for this purpose and adjoins the existing members’ room on floor 2.

White Red Architects tendered for the expansion project in 2018 and we were impressed, firstly, by the style of some of their previous projects and secondly, by how closely their proposal matched how the membership manager imagined the new space might look and function.

Further, we were impressed with the consultation process throughout design development and after construction work had commenced. 

The finished room is considerate of the existing design and features of the members’ room but with a unique character conducive to quiet working and study. It is already very popular. 

Caroline Brown, head of commercial services, British Library

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Unfolded plan

Project data

Start on site April 2019
Completion July 2019
Gross internal floor area 96m²
Form of contract or procurement route JCT Design & Build
Architect White Red Architects
Client The British Library
M&E consultant AGP Consultants
QS Equals Consulting
Project manager Equals Consulting
CDM coordinator Vey Consulting
Approved building inspector Regional Building Control
Main contractor Hannaford
CAD software used AutoCAD

White red architects london british library drawing 01

Internal elevations drawing

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Given the controversy over the listing of the new British Library, I wonder what this room has replaced?

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