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University unveils plans for a new flagship £80 million library

The Hawthorns, which will be replaced with a new £80 million library

Press release issued: 11 December 2017

A new £80 million library development is to be built at the heart of the University of Bristol’s Clifton campus.

The flagship building promises to 'delight and inspire innovation and discovery' and will be designed by a team of architects behind some of Europe's top education and library projects.

As part of the University's wider plans to remodel its precinct around Tyndall Avenue, the new library will replace The Hawthorns - a former hotel which currently houses some student accommodation, catering facilities and various offices.

Over 1,400 staff and students reviewed and voted on the five top design concepts as part of the selection process. Both this open vote and the University's expert panel chose the modern design put forward by British architecture studio Hawkins\Brown, Danish practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and engineers Buro Happold.

Their proposal is for a landmark building that integrates with the local built environment, capitalises on the location and views, and extends the landscaping from Royal Fort Garden throughout the whole precinct.

While the winning concept now requires more detailed development and consultation, there is an ambition to include exhibition spaces, reading rooms and a café for students, staff and the public to enjoy.

The new library will also include a cultural collections centre to give access to the University’s world-class collections of historic books, archives and the Theatre Collection.

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, said: "The new state-of-the-art library will be an integral part of the academic experience of so many of our students and staff – especially, but not exclusively, in the humanities and social sciences.

"We are excited to be working with architects who understand the importance of creating libraries which delight and inspire innovation and discovery. Although the design plans are in their infancy, it is our ambition to work in partnership with the design team to deliver a welcoming building with incredible natural light and views, a rich resource of texts and special collections, excellent digital infrastructure and technology, and a stimulating and nurturing learning environment."

It's anticipated that a full public consultation on the more developed design will begin in Spring 2018 before a planning application is submitted to Bristol City Council.

The University announced plans to remodel the Clifton campus, alongside the creation of a new £300 million campus by Bristol Temple Meads railway station, when its new strategy was launched last year.

This investment in the University’s physical and IT infrastructure is going hand-in-glove with a significant investment in the University's curriculum, staff numbers, support systems and wider learning environment.

Plans revolve around transforming the area around Tyndall Avenue and Woodland Road over the next five years to provide new and enhanced facilities for students, and improve the public realm.

It aims to create a welcoming 'heart' to the University – for students, staff and members of the public alike.

Hawkins\Brown's recent higher education buildings include the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, the Bob Champion Research and Education Building for the University of East Anglia and the soon-to-be completed The Beecroft Physics Building, a major new research and laboratory facility for the University of Oxford.

Schmidt Hammer Lassen's international portfolio of library projects includes the Sir Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen; Dokk1 in Aarhus, Denmark - Scandinavia's largest public library; and Halifax Central Library in Canada.

Adam Cossey, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, said: "We are delighted to be partnering with Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects to design this exciting new library project. The library has the potential to have a catalytic effect on the University's wider plan to revitalise the Clifton campus, with public elements that will provide a space for knowledge and social exchange between the university community and the wider public."

Morten Schmidt, Founding Partner of Schmidt/Hammer/Lassen, said: "Libraries make a difference in people's lives. Not only for scholars, researchers and students, but for all citizens. They bring people and communities together - and they release potential.

"This building will be a beacon of knowledge and it will play a vital part in the life and experience of the University of Bristol and the city of Bristol itself.  It will be a sustainable, contemporary, welcoming, and fun place to be – while remaining in harmony with the rich traditions and history of its surroundings."

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