undefinedUniversity of Salford Main Library

The University worked with students to create a refurbishment programme which would create as little disruption to their studies as possible. Consequently, the work is being undertaken in two six-month phases, June-December in 2016 and 2017, in order to minimise the impact on students during the busiest time of the academic year. Additionally, much of the work is taking place overnight to avoid noisy construction during the day.

Transforming study spaces

The first and second floors of the Clifford Whitworth Library have now been completed, and have transformed what were rather rigid study areas. In their place are light and airy spaces, with a variety of attractive technology-enabled study areas which allow students the freedom to learn in ways that feel comfortable.

The theme of the refurbishment is the “library in the park”, celebrating the fact that the University of Salford benefits from an attractive green campus, overlooking the historic Peel Park (the first municipal park in the UK). Interior designers, Fuse, have incorporated elements within the design and artwork which draw playfully upon this theme, such as a raised garden area with deck chairs, and park “pavilions” providing a focal point for activity on each floor.

Key to the design’s success in the first phase has been working with students to make sure the finished product would reflect their needs. Increasing the ease of use of mobile devices by installing additional power sockets and charging points on study desks was a high priority, as was more bookable rooms, PCs, and the creation of more flexible spaces.

Reflecting the way students work

Zoning is now clearer throughout the refurbished areas, with colour-coded floors signalling to students the behaviour expected in the space. Services are located in the same area on each floor, making wayfinding more intuitive. Glazed walls have replaced solid walls to reveal staff offices, creating a sense of a shared community space with library staff both working alongside and supporting students.

The next phase of the work will see these elements repeated on the ground floor, including movable walls which will allow students to create bespoke study spaces, additional group study rooms and cosmetic work to the entrance canopy and courtyard.

Essentially, the space reflects the way students work, with a blend of book stock, PCs and study areas replacing the tightly delineated spaces of the pre-development library. So far the response to the new floors has been very positive which provides real encouragement for the next phase of the work.