New University Library project
Our new library is a key part of the University’s vision and strategy for transforming the Clifton campus, which includes providing new and enhanced facilities, improvements to public spaces and creating a welcoming heart to the University for students, staff and the wider community.
Reaching a new milestone: planning application for our landmark new library is submitted
A library is at the heart of any university. It's a place where we can learn and connect with each other and with new ideas. It should be somewhere to be quiet and reflective as well as social and collaborative. We've now reached a new milestone in the process and have submitted the planning application for the new library, which will transform the heart of the Clifton campus and provide an architecturally significant new building for the city, along with improved external public spaces.
The new University library will be built on the site of the Hawthorns, at the corner of Elton Road and Woodland Road. It has been designed by a collaborative team formed by Hawkins/Brown, Schmidt Hammer Lassen and BuroHappold; organisations behind some of Europe's top education and library projects.
The new University Library will have incredible natural light and views, a rich resource of texts and special collections, excellent digital infrastructure and technology. It will be a stimulating and nurturing learning environment that will provide:
· a café and exhibition gallery space to showcase the new Centre for Cultural Collections, open to all
· a year-round programme of events open to everyone in the City and beyond
· library book and journal collections, including the Theatre Collection, one of the world's leading collections of British theatre history, and our extensive Special Collections
· new ways to engage with the City and its communities by delivering an exciting spectrum of social, cultural and academic activities in purpose-built facilities
· world class academic facilities that foster innovation in teaching, improving student attainment and new research partnerships
Plans also include a new civic square aimed at making the surrounding area safer, more attractive and accessible to all.
You can share your thoughts via the Bristol City Council website.
Our Objectives and Vision for the New University Library
1. Supporting wellbeing
The latest innovations in library design theory and practice are being incorporated to ensure the new University Library best supports the well-being of our staff, students and visitors. Spaces will maximise natural light and view, to provide a sense of relaxation and support, particularly for our students who study for extended hours.
2. Inclusive and accessible
The new library space will be welcoming to all creating an environment where diversity is valued and everyone feels supported. All aspects of the building will support access for all and the design includes a ‘Changing Places’ toilet facility, designed to meet the needs of people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. This facility is one of only three in Bristol City centre.
The architecture will delight and inspire innovation and discovery. It will be a building with spaces that create opportunities for intellectual pursuit and elevated thinking. Access to the rich and unique Cultural Collections will inspire creativity and new uses and provide further opportunities to engage with the City and beyond.
The building will adapt to new ways of learning and researching, and will accommodate new technologies and services as they develop throughout the life of the building.
5. Built to last, sustainable, complementary to heritage surroundings
The new library will meet high sustainability standards with a focus on natural light, a high level of energy efficiency, a low environmental impact and will have green roof terraces. While modern in design, the library will be built in natural stone to be in keeping with the historic nature of listed buildings nearby. It features a stepped design to integrate with the local built environment.
Context: the Campus Heart Programme
In 2015-16 we co-created a bold and exciting University Strategy that encompasses a wide range of ambitions. We listened to what students and staff asked for - more space at the centre to work, to share ideas and relax with each other. In particular, our students have changed dramatically in both their numbers and diversity and its vital our spaces meet the needs of scholars drawn from different cultures across the world. Campus Heart is the name for the University’s development programme to transform the spaces and services around Tyndall Avenue - creating opportunities for staff, students, external partners (local and international) and our community - to come together to learn and study, get help and support, be social and just relax. Campus Heart is part of the way we are delivering the priorities of the University Strategy by transforming the space, and the relationships that happen in and around the buildings.
News and latest updates
Further information can be found on the New University Library Blog.
What’s so special about the new library?
We want to create a world-class university library, at the heart of the campus, that reflects the University and the City’s proud tradition of academic excellence with an innovative, forward thinking spirit.
It will create opportunities for staff, students and our local community to come together to learn and study, get help and support, and relax.
It will welcome students, staff and Bristol’s wider community by opening up the University’s world-class cultural collections which includes the University’s Special Collections and the nationally renowned Theatre Collection.
It is a transformative moment for the University in terms of providing public access to its cultural collections.
The University holds world class collections and, whilst having high levels of academic and other specialist use, many of these collections have remained relatively invisible to the general public.
The Centre for Cultural Collections will give the public access to these nationally significant resources through a range of facilities (such as exhibition galleries, reading rooms, viewing room) and activities (events, volunteering, etc) for a whole range of educational, creative and inspirational uses.
There will be public-facing exhibition galleries and a café which will be open to all.
What are the Cultural Collections?
A: The Theatre Collection is a world class collection related to the history of British theatre and live art. It is now also an Accredited Museum, an Accredited Archive Service and also a Designated Collection (one of only a handful of collections in the UK to achieve all three). Designated status is awarded to ‘outstanding collections’ in England that are of importance and value and that ‘deepen our understanding of the world and what it means’.
The University’s Special Collections is internationally recognised as an important collection of rare books and archives, with particular strengths in politics and campaigning, literature and publishing, and science and medicine. You can find a catalogue in their website.
Together they form the University’s Cultural Collections. The New University Library will provide a new centre in which to unite the collections.
The Centre will also be a forum through which members of the public can engage with the academic community and with the creative and cultural industries in Bristol, and will become a catalyst for new academic and creative work.
As well as viewing the free exhibitions and events, any member of the public will be welcome to come in and use the reading rooms to consult the cultural collections we hold.
To give an idea of scale of our archives, rare books and object collections, it takes almost 12km of shelving to house our cultural collections.
When will the new Library be opened?
A: Our aim is to open the doors to the new university library in 2023. The planning application has currently reached its final stage, and we’re expecting a final decision from the council in Spring this year (2020).
How many collections will be in there? (books, journals)
A: The library will house new study seats and approximately 420,000 books and 70,000 journals. The upper floors will be open to University staff and students for study and research.
Will the new University Library be open to the public?
A: While the new University library is not a public library, members of the public will be able to access the ground floor/facilities. The ground floor will be open to the whole community, with exhibition galleries, events space, a programme of new public art commissions and a café. The public will also be able to use reading rooms and facilities within the Centre for Cultural Collections on the ground floor. Access to other floors will be through a Library Visitor Scheme, enabling access to different parts of the building and the collections. We are planning to review our visitor scheme and our interactions with local sixth forms and FE colleges as we plan for the new University library.
How have you involved the local community in your plans?
A: We have been involving and will continue to involve stakeholders, residents, local community groups and the local communities. In December 2018 we held an initial workshop with representatives of key organisations. Since then consultations were extended to include local residents and the wider local community to help shape our plans, with public consultation events, and online survey and an exhibition held in October 2019. The public will now be able to share their thoughts via the Bristol City Council website now the full application has been published.
What will the new building look like?
A: The stepped design is initially three storeys tall and rises to seven-storeys to integrate with the local built environment. The current proposal is 7 storeys at its highest above street level, with a lower ground floor and basement level.
It will be built using natural stone (limestone and sandstone), a common pattern with other new buildings across Bristol, and the verticals reflect the style of other Bristol buildings, such as the Will’s Memorial Building. You can see an artist’s impression of current proposals for design on our blog.
How will current uses/facilities in Hawthorns be re-provided and where?
Student study space and an enhanced café offering and catering services will be provided within the refurbished/extended Senate House and open to public. There will also be a café in the new University library open to members of the public.
There is a University-wide strategy being developed for the re-provision and/or relocation of the existing Hawthorns facilities within the University estate.
How will you make the New Library accessible to people from other parts of Bristol?
A: We will encourage people from all over Bristol to visit the new Library. We are working with the City Council to ensure we have good transport links between our new campus at Temple Quarter and Clifton. The library is positioned next to the national cycle route and our plans for the public realm will make the area more pedestrian and cycle friendly.
We are also in discussions regarding increasing the frequency of the Severn Beach train service.
What is a civic square, and why are you proposing to build this?
A: The plans include a new civic square in between the University Library and the refurbished Senate House, at the current Woodland Road/Tyndall Avenue junction.
The proposed new road layouts are designed to improve traffic flow, enhance the pedestrian and cycling routes and make the whole area enjoyable, safer and accessible for everyone.
Does the plan for creating the civic square include closing down Tyndall Avenue?
A: We are no longer proposing closing Tyndall Avenue. Proposals have continued to develop - the previous Tyndall Avenue Public Realm scheme has been replaced by new wider public realm proposals. This involves pedestrianisation of the section of Woodland Road between the front of Senate House and the new library thus being closed to car and bus traffic. In addition, a raised table will be installed at the junction of Woodland Road/Tyndall Avenue/Elton Road, rerouting buses and traffic. It will providing a sense of arrival for Bristol Grammar School and University Library, Royal Fort Gardens and Senate House, as well as reduced traffic speeds through key areas, better crossing facilities and footways.
What car parking/cycle spaces/disabled parking will be provided?
A: The existing departmental and visitor parking spaces are being removed and relocated and cycle parking facilities will be significantly increased. Disabled parking and set down is being allowed for and will be further developed.
What plans are you putting in place to mitigate parking issues in surrounding areas?
A: The emerging design proposals seek to limit changes to on-street parking capacity wherever possible. Where there are reductions in on-street parking, Transport Consultants will be reviewing the impact of that loss in a Transport Assessment (TA) report. Once the TA is completed, and reviewed by Bristol City Council, it will be possible to determine whether mitigation measures will be required, and if so, what form they might take.
Is the proposed bus stop (transport hub) on Tyndall Avenue big enough?
A: The bus hub is being designed with sufficient capacity for three full-size U1 double deck buses, as well as local services, to be able to load and unload passengers at the same time. The bus shelter will be of sufficient size for the large numbers of students who will use the space, which will be determined based on survey data and in compliance with local and national standards. The bus company responsible for operating the services is being consulted on proposals, as is Bristol City Council. The proposals represent a significant increase over the existing level of provision and will meet the expected level of University and non-University demand for bus services.
What measures have you taken in the design to support the University’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030?
A. The buildings are being designed to achieve a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) “Excellent” rating. Measures to support the carbon neutral commitment include:
· LED lighting
· using heat from server equipment to provide heat to other parts of the building that require it
· generating renewable energy from solar photovoltaic panels
· high efficiency heat recovery on air supply systems
· window sizing to reduce excessive solar heat gain
· a low energy passive chilled beam cooling system
What is your sustainability strategy? How does it align with your recent declaration of a Climate emergency?
The University recognises both its impact on the environment and the role it plays both locally and nationally in addressing sustainability issues. We made a commitment within our Vision and Strategy 2016-2023 to continue to deliver our sustainable targets and have identified 14 key areas through which sustainability will be delivered – including sustainable buildings, travel and procurement; engagement with staff and students to encourage behaviour change; and education by providing opportunities for students to learn about sustainability through the Bristol Futures programme.
Read the latest information about this exciting project on the
New University Library Blog.