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Update on the University’s plans to create an inspirational new Library

13 December 2018

Plans to create a flagship new library at the University of Bristol are taking shape ahead of a public consultation next year.

A pre-application enquiry for the new University Library, which will be on the site of The Hawthorns, on the corner of Woodland Road and Elton Road, has been submitted to Bristol City Council for initial feedback on the proposed development.

It’s part of the University’s wider plans to transform the spaces and services on Tyndall Avenue, creating opportunities for staff, students and our local community to come together to learn and study, get help and support, and relax.

British architecture studio Hawkins\Brown, Danish practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and engineers Buro Happold have been appointed to create an inspirational building which will act as a gateway to the University’s main campus and an exciting addition to the Bristol city-scape.

Emerging proposals are based on widespread consultation with internal stakeholders, who have fed back on the needs and expectations of staff and students for a 21st century academic library. Once initial feedback has been received from the Council, there will be a public consultation in Spring 2019.

At this stage, architects are suggesting a stepped building which is initially three storeys tall and rises to seven-storeys to integrate with the local built environment, which capitalises on the location and views, and extends the landscaping from Royal Fort Gardens throughout the whole of the heart of the University’s open city campus.

The University’s world-class cultural collections – including the nationally renowned Theatre Collection – will be publicly-accessible, alongside an exhibition space, gallery and café open to all. It will be a particularly inspiring space for the University’s engagement with local school children.

A flexible and future-proof design will ensure the University Library is able to accommodate new technologies and services as they evolve.

There will be plenty of natural light to support the wellbeing of users, a high level of energy efficiency and low environmental impact.

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, said: “It’s exciting to see our plans come together ahead of public consultation this year. With input from key stakeholders, we’re on course to deliver a landmark library at the heart of our campus.

“Our aim is to create an iconic building which will foster scholarship, innovation and ideas. It will be an integral part of the academic experience for so many of our students and staff and we’re especially pleased that it will give us the opportunity to better share our cultural collections and facilities with the public of our city.”

One of the University’s key reasons for creating a new library is a 71 per cent increase in library visits by staff and students since 2010/11. Its main library, the Arts and Social Sciences Library on Tyndall Avenue, will remain open until the new library is operational.


Current timeline - 

  • January 2019: initial feedback from Bristol City Council
  • Spring 2019: public consultation
  • Summer 2019: planning application submitted to Bristol City Council
  • 2022/23: new library opens
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