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Penoyre & Prasad refurbishes Brutalist library at the University of Kent

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The refurbishment and extension of Lord Holford’s 1960s Templeman Library at the University of Kent is designed to accommodate a growing student population

The 5,400m² extension includes new reader spaces, a dedicated special collection and exhibition space, a 250-seat lecture theatre, a suite of seminar rooms and social learning spaces. 

A natural ventilation strategy incorporates underground passive cooling pipes, a passively cooled archive for special collections and roof-mounted photovoltaic cells.

The extensive remodeling of the existing 12,500m² library includes two entrance extensions, improved vertical circulation and reglazing the entire façade. A landscaped, raised entrance podium to the south leads straight into a three-storey atrium, where existing floorplates have been cut back to improve wayfinding, connectivity and views out over the city of Canterbury.

Pp templeman 06

Architect’s view

Our competition-winning design creates a vibrant contemporary building for study, interaction and exploration, bringing together a variety of study and support spaces, versatile collection and exhibition space and a teaching suite. 

The bronze anodised mesh veil of the extension façade forms a sophisticated, sustainable envelope that weaves old and new to create a distinctive flagship building at the heart of the university campus. A landscape plinth, connective paths to adjacent buildings and a wooded garden exploit the setting of the library to create a hub of knowledge for the university. The complexity of this project lies in the scale of investment and in dealing with an existing building that is pivotal to the university’s 15,000 students which needs to remain in use during construction.

Consultation with staff and students from a wide variety of courses, including students with disabilities, led to the design of 1,800 individual, pair and group study spaces across informal, quiet and silent zones to suit contemporary learning styles.

A long span concrete frame structure, flexible services strategy and raised access floor allows for future adaptability of spaces. 

This long-term, easily-phased solution has created a step change in quality across the whole library development, re-emphasising its enduring and pivotal role within the campus. The newly enhanced ‘lawn entrance’ to the south is combined with improvements made to the north of the building, creating a cultural avenue to link the existing theatre and architecture school. 

Suzi Winstanley, partner, Penoyre & Prasad

Pp templeman site plan ground floor plan

Pp templeman site plan ground floor plan

Ground floor plan

Client’s view

The Templeman Library was the most impressive building on campus when the university was established in the 1960s, and it is fitting that as the university celebrates its 50th anniversary we should have transformed the library. The 21st-century, updated and refreshed Templeman Library has moved very significantly with the times to become an impressive modern building containing services and facilities that are equally modern, impressive and important to its current and prospective users.

John Sotillo, director of information services, University of Kent

Project data

Start on site 2013
 Phase 1: 2015. Phase 2: 2017
Gross internal floor area
 Phase 1: 5,400m² (new build) Phases 2 & 3: 12,500m² (refurbishment)
Site area
 approx 1.5ha
Form of contract
 Single stage Design & Build, novated to the contractor for stages F-L
Construction cost
 Phase 1: £14 million Phase 2: £8 million Phase 3: £6 million
Construction cost per m²
 £3,100 new build £1,100 refurbishment
 Penoyre & Prasad
University of Kent
Structural engineer
Price & Myers
Fire engineer
Circulation Design Consultancy
 Betteridge & Milsom
Landscape architect
M&E Engineer, Lighting Designer, BREEAM Assessor and Acoustic consultant
Max Fordham
Project manager
CDM coordinator
Approved building inspector
 Art in Site / Studio CW
Main contractor
CAD software used
Annual CO2 emissions

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