Our scheme for the New College Library for Magdalene College appears as an arrangement of simple brick volumes which echo the typical gabled architecture of the existing College. The project is the first substantial addition to the College’s main site in over 50 years and is built alongside the Grade 1 Listed Pepys Library.
The main library is a suite of interconnecting rooms lined with bookcases, reading desks and galleries, arranged on a tartan grid between interconnecting passageways. Three main reading rooms organise the principal circulation route through the library from the three-storey entrance hall, to a double-height central reading room and up to a long single- height room with a view out to the garden and river at the top of the building. The stepping of these spaces in section is followed by the stepping of the plan form which allows the building to address the differently scaled garden spaces on its east and west elevations.
The interior spaces are made from load bearing brickwork supporting glue- laminated and cross-laminated spruce timber structure with oak shelves and tables. The intention is for all of the key features to be perceived as an interwoven set of elements. Roof lights, columns, floor beams, shelves, windows, desks and balustrades forming a coherent warp and weft throughout the space. The roof is formed a grid of lanterns with glazed gables separated by wide internal gutters. The lanterns bring light into the depth of the plan while their geometry limits glare and overheating. The corners of the roof lanterns are supported on brickwork chimneys that allow stale air out of the building, drawing fresh air in through the opening windows and shutters in the facades.