The new University Library 2016

Opened in September 2016, the new library cost over £50 million and provides students with over 1,800 seats, most with power sockets. There are a variety of learning zones including casual seating, thinking spaces and individual work areas.

As Learning Spaces Development Manager, I worked closely with the Senior Project Manager, Stephen Ashton and Diane Job, Director of Library Services alongside her team during 2015. We investigated how the study spaces should accommodate how students learn, their aspirations and what we know works. As a design team we collaborated with the furniture supplier Broadstock and Associated Architects to look at specific study areas such as the music library, study skills suite, group work spaces and post graduate rooms. Our work paid great attention to planning the detail for the design, type of furniture and considered layouts for study.






The Library overflows with contemporary spaces, colours and quality environments. There is an enormous overall improvement in the facilities for students with a sense of openness for learning in the 21st Century including versatile charging stations, cafe, silent study zones and a media room with video editing booths. The furniture was specified together with our designs realised under the highly effective account management of Lee Woodall from Broadstock.

This first set of images are reproduced with the kind permission of Broadstock:

Ground floor, originally called the High Demand Collection, this area is for short term use, visible group study, generally a noisier space with quick access computers. Curves were very important here to break the otherwise linear layout.

The Bloid from Davison Highley, our feature piece of furniture, all curves and hard-wearing finishes

This is the Library lounge, opposite the cafe, with a more classic suite of furniture and finishes. Note the key piece, oak table for students to sit at on stools ‘alone together’

Power. A must have feature of most seating and table layouts.


Adjacent to the Library lounge is this accessible study space that is open to all without the need to pass through the gates. A mixture of furniture pieces providing that much needed variety and enough space for different work methods.















This shot demonstrates the variety of furniture that we selected for the different ways that students prefer to work, as well as the open design providing access to daylight, space and interesting views of other areas on the floor.

Time out seating, for reflection, pondering, or 40 winks…












Post graduate study space…with great high back arm chairs












The following images are taken of the Media Room, a separate space specifically designed for music students, as well as those who want to edit video material or listen to audio in the high back chairs.


This table from Orangebox is sublime, called the Rock, its a three cornered piece that is beautifully made of oak, finished so that three people can work ‘alone together’. I saw this as perfect for the triangular corner of the building.

One of the many group study rooms, all bookable and fitted with LCD screens and power modules inset within the curved table

Students always need quiet study areas, these fabric screens are very useful in that they are portable, sliding onto the table quite easily. The Orangebox chairs are very comfortable for long periods of work, with a breathable back mesh and castors for movement.

Finally, also from Orangebox, the Moss deck chair, I love it! Ideal for some downtime or reflection away from the desk.