undefinedUniversity of Coventry Library
Photo: Simon Hadley

A flexible design for sustainability

The University of Coventry’s Lanchester Library was a pioneer in sustainable construction when it was built in 2000. One of the first university libraries to feature passive ventilation, it is a case study of best practice in sustainability – and remains the largest naturally ventilated deep-plan building in Europe.

But equally important to the sustainability of the library has been its flexible space design, allowing the university to update its floor plate to meet the changing demands of staff and students. “The library has served us well,” explained Kirsty Kift, Acting Assistant Director of the library. “Because we have such heavy footfall, it was beginning to look very tired and, as our student numbers are always going up, we needed to create extra seating areas.”

The five-floor library was conceived as an open-plan space using structural steel beams, removing the need for load bearing internal walls. The essential and inflexible elements – such as the toilets and lift shafts – are housed in ‘pods’ beyond the main space. This meant that when the university undertook a complete renovation in 2015, it had the freedom to rework the interior space to meet modern requirements. “Students work in different ways today,” said Kift, who project managed the renovation. “We had to respond to that.”

Space for personal and group study

The plan was to spread the stock out, creating a sense of space and freeing up room for more personal and group study areas. “Our main shelving is now on three floors, with some additional rolling stacks in the basement,” said Kift.

Bruynzeel supplied 10,500 linear metres of shelving for the refurbishment including electronic mobile shelving and low-level static shelving. Both types were finished with Shade end panels, designed by Jacob Jensen, the Danish design studio renowned for its pared back designs for Bang & Olufsen. “The Shade design gave a nice clean look to finish the ends of the stacks,” said Kift. “We wanted the mobile and static shelving to give a unified look across the floor. The Shade end panels helped us achieve that, and fitted really nicely with the interior design of duck egg blue, greens, greys and wooden finishes.”