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Hawkins\Brown and Schmidt Hammer Lassen submit £80m University of Bristol library plans

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Schmidt Hammer Lassen and Hawkins\Brown have submitted plans for a new £80 million library at the University of Bristol

The design team, which also includes engineer BuroHappold, propose a modern, stepped design built in natural stone to fit in with the historic listed buildings nearby.

The university says the flagship building, on the corner of Elton Road and Woodland Road, will transform the heart of its Clifton campus and improve external public spaces with a new civic square and better road layouts.

The building will house 2,000 study seats, approximately 420,000 books, 70,000 journals and study spaces. There will be exhibition galleries open to the public, an events space, a programme of activities, new public art and a café, all of which will be open to the whole community.

Floor-to-ceiling windows and an atrium at the heart of the space are intended to maximise natural daylight and allow views to the study spaces, promoting social connectivity. Suspended ceilings have been omitted to expose the structure and make use of the concrete frame’s thermal mass.

The new building will replace The Hawthorns -– a former hotel which currently houses some student accommodation, catering facilities and various offices.

Following a public consultation last October, a number of changes have been made to the building and road layout ahead of the planning application being submitted. The scale of the building above ground has been reduced by adding a basement level and the entrance has been redesigned.

The scheme proposes new road layouts to improve traffic flow and public transport, enhance the pedestrian and cycling routes and make the whole area safer and accessible for everyone.

Hawkins\Brown partner Adam Cossey said: ‘This inspirational new landmark for Bristol will provide world-class facilities in an inclusive and welcoming environment. The new library building has the potential to transform the relationship between the University of Bristol and the wider city, extending a welcome to the public and acting as a gateway to the revitalised Clifton Campus.’

Model shot

Model shot

Kasper Frandsen, partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen – which was bought by Perkins + Will last year – said: ‘While we set out to create a contemporary design that echoes a sense of civic dignity imbued with timeless sculptural qualities, the new library is also deeply contextual and deliberately responsive to the historical environment of Bristol.’

Schmidt Hammer Lassen was the architect behind the award-winning Sir Duncan Rice library at the University of Aberdeen which completed in 2012.

University of Bristol deputy vice-chancellor and provost Judith Squires said: ‘The ground floor will be open to all and will be home to a new Cultural Collections Centre as well as a café, gallery and event spaces to host talks and exhibitions.’

‘We are also planning to enhance the public realm around the new University Library, turning a congested road junction into a calm and welcoming civic space, making the roads safer and creating new accessible public space for everyone to enjoy.’

Bristol City Council is expected to make a decision on the planning application in late spring.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Yuck!

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  • The University's gain is Clifton's loss, but then the University of Bristol doesn't seem to have figured much in promoting really good architecture over the years.

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