University of Sussex Library Circular lift tower and walkway, UK

University of Sussex Library Circular lift tower and walkway, UK, English Project, Planning permission News, Architecture Images

University of Sussex Library Circular lift tower and walkway in UK

4 Feb 2024

Architecture: Keith Williams Architects

Location: Sussex, England

University of Sussex Library Circular lift tower and walkway UK

Images: AVR London

Circular lift tower and walkway, University of Sussex

Circular lift tower and walkway at University of Sussex Library by Keith Williams Architects wins consent.

Designs for a new circular brick lift tower and walkway by Keith Williams Architects at Basil Spence’s Grade II* listed University of Sussex Library have been approved by Brighton & Hove City Council, paving the way for technical design to commence and construction to start later this year.

Opened in 1961 as the first of the seven so-called plate-glass post-war universities, the University of Sussex laid out by Sir Basil Spence incorporates some of the finest works of post-war mid 20th century university architecture. Most of the eight core buildings designed by Spence are now listed.

Conceived by Spence as a “repository of knowledge”, the university Library is set atop a sloped grassed bank 5m above the main approach, and the building’s grand scale brick expression with concrete oversailing arched roof and monumental staircase, create a powerful almost temple like composition.

The monumental flight of steps that leads to an off-centre entrance sits between two massive blind brick planes. The Library’s main façade is composed of red brick and bare, board-marked concrete. Its main elevation forms a giant order of 15 bays with projecting brick buttresses flanking three of the bays. Vertical strip windows punctuate large areas of blind brick walls.

A key part of the university’s drive toward universal access across the campus, Keith Williams’ proposals will add a freestanding circular brick lift tower directly in front of the Library’s main façade to connect the university’s main public space, (Library Square), and the Library main entrance. A new 80m long concrete walkway is to be placed above Spence’s now largely redundant concrete services plinth that currently runs along the top of the grassed bank at the base of the Library, linking the lift tower and the Library to the wider university campus.

University of Sussex Library Circular lift tower and walkway UK

The design of the lift as a brick circular drum/tower takes its references from other circular buildings on the campus designed by Spence.

The brick tower will be made from red Sussex radiused stretcher bonded brickwork with textured pre-cast concrete framing to entrances to reflect the materiality of Spence’s original facades. Niched bays with chevroned brickwork draw from the Sussex vernacular but are reinterpreted in a pared back manner to add to the tower’s sculpted form and monumentality. The result sets the new piece apart from Spence’s work but also establishes a strong contextual connection with it.

Fiona Courage, Deputy University Librarian, University of Sussex said: ‘The creation of a fully accessible main entrance to our Library has been a long-held aspiration at the University of Sussex, so we are thrilled that planning permission has been granted. The approved plans honour our architectural legacy whilst creating a modern, accessible entrance that will meet the needs and expectations of our university community. We are committed to making our campus more accessible, and the addition of a new accessible Library entrance marks the first step towards making our iconic Library accessible for all.’

Enabling works are proposed to start mid-2024 with completion in 2025.

The consultant team working with the team at Keith Williams Architects for the University of Sussex, include planning consultants Parker Dann, AVR London, ARUP in a multi-disciplinary engineering role and costs consultants Atkins Réalis

University of Sussex Library Circular lift tower and walkway UK

About the University of Sussex
For over 60 years the aim of our courses, research, culture and campus has been to stimulate, excite and challenge. From scientific discovery to global policy, from student welfare to career development, the University of Sussex innovates and takes a lead. And today, in every part of society and across the world, you will find someone from the University of Sussex making an original and valuable contribution. Visit

About Keith Williams Architects
Founded in 2001, Keith Williams Architects is by reputation one of the UK’s leading architectural design practices with a body of work which incorporates a series of exceptional high profile award winning projects for clients in both the private and public sectors. The London based firm works internationally across a broad range of projects, and is a leading designer of museum, gallery, library, civic and performing arts buildings.

KWA’s projects include inter alia the Unicorn Theatre, London, the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, the Novium Museum, Chichester, and in Ireland the National Opera House, Wexford, the Civic Centre and the Luan Art Gallery, in Athlone, Clones Library and the County Library HQ, Co. Monaghan, all in Ireland

The firm’s is new County Library and art gallery in Ennis, Co. Clare will open in June 2024.

The firm has received some 40 national and international design awards for its work.

Architecture: Keith Williams Architects –

Renders: AVR London

University of Sussex Library Circular lift tower and walkway, England images / information received 040224

Location: Sussex, England, UK

English University Buildings

Sussex Buildings – Selection

Chichester Regional Museum
Design: Keith Williams Architects
Chichester District Museum
picture from architecture practice
Chichester District Museum

Eastbourne Cultural Centre, Eastbourne
Design: Rick Mather Architects
Eastbourne Building
picture from architect practice
Towner Art Gallery

Peasmarsh House, East Sussex
Design: Hut Architecture
Sussex house
picture from architect office
East Sussex house

East Beach café, West Sussex
Design: Heatherwick Studio
Littlehampton Building
photo : Andy Stagg
Littlehampton Building

De La Warr Pavilion, East Sussex

Royal Alexandra Hospital Brighton

English Architect

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