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BFI Library

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Coffey Architects have provided a new purpose built space for the BFI National Library at the Southbank

The architect’s view

Home to the world’s largest collection of books, periodicals and other moving image knowledge resources, the BFI wished to expand its current library service and make it freely accessible to the public by moving the BFI National Library from Stephen Street into a welcoming, new purpose-built space at BFI Southbank. Under the listed Waterloo Bridge, the refurbishment will make the Library more accessible, attract new users, and integrate its considerable resources into its public and cultural programmes. The new design cleverly combines hanging bronze mesh, timber bookcases and subtle new lighting to create a rich, vibrant yet welcoming and calm space. The library has met a trio of specific requirements including; transparency – the function of the library within had to be clear from outside foyer; noise attenuation and control – small pockets of dedicated, quiet study area have been designated in an otherwise vibrant and dynamic space; and flexibility – the space is multifunctional so that events and programmed activities can be held.

  • Phil Coffey, director, Coffey Architects

Project data

Net  area: 206m2
Form of contract: JCT DB11
Total cost: £275,500
Cost per m2: £1,337
Client: BFI
Architect: Coffey Architects
Structural engineer: Hurley Palmer Flatt
M&E consultant: Hurley Palmer Flatt
Quantity surveyor: Turner and Townsend
Accoustic engineer: Paul Gillieron Acoustics
Employer’s representative: Buro4
Main contractor: Cameron Black
CDM coordinator: Turner and Townsend
Approved building inspector: BRCS


Specified products

Bespoke bookcases to perimeter, librarians’ desk
Hills of Shoeburyness
MDF boards pre-veneered with crown-cut American white oak
Solid oak lipping to shelf edges


Study desks
Vitra Joyn
Bespoke conference tables
Light oak veneered tops

Desk lamps
Anglepoise: Type 75 Mini LED, colour Alpine white
Supplier: Coexistence


Bronze curtains to ceiling
Locker Architectural
Biscay Architectural Wire Mesh
Tracks: Biscay curtain mesh system, sprayed black


Carpet throughout
Object carpet, SL-Contract 1000


Study chairs
Vitra Tip Ton chair in Poppy Red


Allermuir Bison
Supplier: Coexistence


Stools to informal areas
BuzziSpace UK
Buzzicubes 3D
Supplier: Coexistence


Tables to informal area
Vitra Gueridon table
Finish: natural oak veneer
Vitra Gueridon Bas Coffee Table
Supplier: Coexistence

Acoustic cladding




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