University of Bristol appoints Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, Hawkins\Brown, and BuroHappold for new University Library

A new £80 million library development is to be built at the heart of the University of Bristol’s Clifton Campus in South West England.

The University of Bristol has appointed a collaborative team formed by British architecture studio Hawkins\Brown and the Danish practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects to design a new £80 million University Library as a landmark project for the university’s revitalization of its Clifton Campus. The renowned British engineering firm BuroHappold is the third member of the team.

The international competition called for architect-led teams to design a contemporary library, while acknowledging the conservation setting and abiding by the university’s high standard of sustainability.

The winning team combines Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s international and award-winning expertise in library design with Hawkins\Brown’s unrivalled experience in the UK higher education sector.

The winning team was chosen after a competition which also included AHMM, Wilkinson Eyre Architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Atkins with Snohetta.

The team will now begin work to develop a detailed design which will involve consultation with future users of the library and the public as well as a broad range of stakeholders in the landmark project.

Adam Cossey, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with Schmidt Hammer Lassen and BuroHappold 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.”

The new library will help form a gateway to the Clifton Campus, which the university has wider plans to remodel over the next five years to create a welcoming ‘heart’ to the university — for students, staff and members of the public alike.

The winning 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. There is an ambition to include exhibition spaces, reading rooms and a café for the public to enjoy. The new library may also include a cultural collections centre to give access to the university’s world-class collections of historic books, art and theatre artefacts.

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.”

Dr. Mike Entwisle, Partner and Global Education Sector Lead, BuroHappold Engineering, said:

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to develop our already significant project portfolio and relationships with Hawkins\Brown, Schmidt Hammer Lassen and the University of Bristol, bringing our experience and skills from over 100 recent Higher Education projects across the globe. The library offers great opportunities for us to contribute to our local community while playing an important part in the university maintaining its position amongst the world’s elite.”

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.

BuroHappold Engineering’s current and recent university projects include the Forum at the University of Exeter, the David Attenborough building at the University of Cambridge, the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, the faculty of Arts at the University of Warwick, the Michael Uren building at Imperial College London and the Fry Building and the masterplan for the new Temple Quarter Campus, both for the University of Bristol.

Work on site is planned to begin over the summer of 2019, with completion estimated to be in 2021.