New University Library, University of Bristol Building News, Design Architecture Images

New University of Bristol Library Building

Design: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects & Hawkins\Brown

Location: Bristol, southwest England, UK

New University of Bristol Library building design
images courtesy of Hawkins\Brown & Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Planning application for landmark new University of Bristol library is submitted

8 Feb 2020

New Library for the University of Bristol

The University of Bristol has submitted a planning application for its landmark new library, which will transform the heart of its Clifton campus and provide an architecturally significant new building for the city, along with improved external public spaces.
The flagship building, on the corner of Elton Road and Woodland Road, has been designed by a collaborative team formed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Hawkins\Brown and BuroHappold – companies behind some of Europe’s top education and library projects.

The library will welcome students, staff and Bristol’s wider community by opening up the University of Bristol’s world-class cultural collections, which includes the University’s Special Collections and the nationally renowned Theatre Collection. The ground floor will be fully open to the public and is designed to be accessible to all*.

The building will accommodate learning and research space, with capacity for around 2,000 new study seats, approximately 420,000 books and 70,000 journals and new 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.

New University of Bristol Library building design

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.

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.

It will meet high sustainability standards, with a focus on natural light, a high level of energy efficiency, a low environmental impact, and green roof terraces.

Plans also include a new civic square, with proposed 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.

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 the inclusion of a basement level and the entrance has been redesigned.

New University of Bristol Library building design

Other changes as a result of the public consultation include keeping Tyndall Avenue open to two-way traffic; arrangements to enable better traffic management measures for coach drop-off and pick-up; making more of the University’s library collections accessible online.

Bristol City Council is expected to make a decision on the planning application in late Spring, when the University will be able to give more information on an anticipated timeline.

Professor Judith Squires, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at the University of Bristol, said: “We are grateful to everyone for the feedback they gave as part of the consultation in October. Their comments have helped shape our latest plans for the creation of a world-class new University Library.

“It will not only provide an outstanding new space for our students and staff to research and learn but provides a unique opportunity for the University to create a new cultural space for all the citizens of Bristol to enjoy. The ground floor will be open to all and will be home to a new Cultural Collections Centre as well as a cafe, 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.”

Dr Mike Entwisle, Partner and Global Education Sector Lead, BuroHappold Engineering, said: “Central to our engineering response was the University’s requirement to achieve a truly sustainable building, promoting health and wellbeing, while meeting their ambition of moving towards a zero-carbon future.

“Floor to ceiling windows and an atrium at the heart of the space maximises natural daylight and views to the study spaces, promoting social connectivity. Suspended ceilings have been omitted in order to expose the elegant structure and utilise the thermal mass of the concrete frame to provide climate change resilience.

“Extensive building modelling has been undertaken to optimise passive and active environmental strategies and analyse a variety of future usage scenarios. The building will transform the student experience and enhance community engagement, and become an exemplar of sustainable and healthy building performance.”

Kasper Frandsen, Partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects 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.

“Having worked closely with the University stakeholders, the library provides archive space for priceless physical collections while offering a social platform for study, exchange of ideas, and meetings between people.”

Adam Cossey, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, 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.”

New University of Bristol Library building design

New University of Bristol Library

The new library will include a Changing Places facility for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets, some with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people. This will be one of only three in the City of Bristol, adding to existing facilities at Cabot Circus and at Ikea, Eastgate.

British architecture studio Hawkins\Brown, Danish practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and local engineers BuroHappold Engineering are developing the University Library, working in partnership with transport consultants Arup and landscape architects Grants on the emerging public realm plans. The two projects are being developed together to give a fully integrated scheme which is being coordinated by Mace Limited, who are the Project Managers across the two schemes.

The new University Library and public realm plans are 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.

New University of Bristol Library building design

About Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, part of global architecture and design firm Perkins and Will, is one of Scandinavia’s most recognized and award-winning architectural practices. The company was founded in Aarhus, Denmark in 1986 and is led today by partners Morten Schmidt, Bjarne Hammer, Kim Holst Jensen, Kristian Lars Ahlmark, Chris Hardie, Rong Lu, Mads Kaltoft, Kasper Frandsen, Elif Tinaztepe, Tiago Pereira, Rasmus Kierkegaard, and Sanne Wall-Gremstrup.

The architecture firm provides skilled architectural services all over the world, with a distinguished track record as designers of international, high-profile architecture. Cultural and educational buildings, offices, commercial, retail, and residential buildings, often in mixed-use developments and complex urban contexts, are cornerstones of the firm’s output.

The practice has extensive global experience in the design of libraries and other public and cultural landmark buildings, and its innovative, sustainable, and democratic approach to architecture has attracted global attention, winning more than 100 national and international awards. For more information, visit

New University of Bristol Library building design

About BuroHapold

BuroHappold Engineering is an independent, international engineering practice that for over 40 years has become synonymous with the delivery of creative, value led building and city solutions for an ever changing world. Having worked on every continent, our clients include more than 90% of the world’s leading architectural practices and we have collaborated with global organisations such as the United Nations, The World Bank and UNESCO.

Through our global community of driven, world leading engineering and consulting professionals we deliver elegant solutions for buildings and cities that seek to address the major problems facing societies today. Follow us @burohappold and find out more at

New University of Bristol Library building design interior

About Hawkins \Brown

Hawkins\Brown is an architecture practice based in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Los Angeles.
Founded over 30 years ago by Partners Russell Brown and Roger Hawkins, the firm brings a collaborative approach to projects across a range of types and scale in five main sectors: civic, community & culture; education; workplace; transport & infrastructure and residential.

Recently completed projects include the 20-year project to upgrade Tottenham Court Road Station; Here East, the 1.2 million sq ft workplace campus in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; a new headquarters building and estates strategy for The Bartlett UCL, the world’s No.1 ranked school of architecture; the restoration and modernisation of the Grade II listed Hackney Town Hall and 538 new homes for Peabody as part of the ongoing regeneration of the St John’s Hill estate Clapham.

Alongside its work in architecture, design and planning, Hawkins\Brown conducts industry leading research, with outputs that include H\B:ERT, an open-source and free-to-use plug-in for BIM models that enables teams across the industry to analyse the whole-life carbon impact of their design choices.

Hawkins\Brown’s awards in 2019 include: an RIBA National Award for the Beecroft Building for the University of Oxford and Sustainability Prize & Overall Winner in the New London Awards for Agar Grove, the largest development of Passivhaus homes in the UK, designed for the London Borough of Camden.

New University of Bristol Library Building images / information received 070220

University of Bristol Library in Southwest England

Previously on e-architect:

11 Dec 2017

New University of Bristol Library Building Design

Design: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects & Hawkins\Brown

Location: Bristol, southwest England, UK

New University Library for the University of Bristol

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

New University Library for the University of Bristol

New University Library for the University of Bristol images / information received 111217

schmidt hammer lassen architects, Denmark


BuroHappold Engineering

Location: Bristol, south west England, UK

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