Lancaster University Library

MJP Architects, Lancaster, 1996


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The reading room elevation of the Lancaster University library extension acts as a trumpet to the outside world 

Peter Durrant     Download Original

  • The reading room elevation of the Lancaster University library extension acts as a trumpet to the outside world    
  • Lancaster University library extension    
  • Vertical solar shades are hung from the roof    
  • Informal working and meeting balconies overlook the atrium in the library extension    
  • Desks in the reading room take advantage of the view    
  • The long horizontal reading room window offers views of Morecambe Bay and the mountains beyond    
  • Primary beams intersect at right angles    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Second floor plan    
  • Section    
  • Section    

Extension to the existing university library

The extension was completed in two phases. The first comprised the public spaces, the atrium, the reading room and the rare-book archive, together with half the accommodation and the plant, service and escape provision. The second phase consists solely of open floorplates on four storeys and a single elevation.

An atrium, which forms an internal street extending from the existing library, accommodates seminar/lecture rooms, offices, book storage and IT areas. The internal street is the core of both the existing and new buildings, making their relationship easily understandable. A reading room is situated on the first floor with double-height space allowing for natural daylight and a high quality of reading light.

The servicing strategy is integral with the spacial and structural flexibility of the building. Raised floors provide ventilation to deep floorplates, which can be subdivided internally. As well as allowing for complete flexibility between paper-based and electronically based information.

The main structure is a concrete frame, with a column grid derived from the 1.35m bookstack module (the distance between centre lines of adjacent bookcases).


  • Begun: Sep 1995
  • Completed: Dec 1996
  • Floor area: 5,000m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £4.5M
  • Procurement: JCT80
  • Address: University House, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4YW, United Kingdom

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