Ruskin Library

MJP Architects, Lancaster, 1997


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Main entrance is a over a bride-like causeway 

Peter Durant (website)     Download Original

  • Main entrance is a over a bride-like causeway    
  • The white concrete blocks with a sparkly marble aggregate recall Ruskin    
  • Double height reading room    
  • A solemn but comfortable reading room is contained within the red box    
  • The Venetian red box of the archive itself rises through the building, and descends through the glass and slate floor to the service floor below    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • Section C-C    

Library to house a collection of John Ruskin's papers, books and pictures

The building contains a reading room, gallery to exhibit the collection and storage facilities, which have additional space for future acquisitions.

The site chosen was redundant space in Lancaster University which offered views over Morecamb Bay. The main entrance is along a bridge-like causeway across manicured grass, in reference to Ruskin's Venice.

The plan is linear for security reasons. A double-height entrance leads to the first floor galleries, connected through the archive by a glass bridge. The curatorial offices and reception are below the galleries on the first floor. The reading room is set away from the entrance and controlled by secure doors.

The exterior materials of white concrete blocks, marble aggregate and polished concrete bands also refer to Venetian and Tuscan materials favoured by Ruskin. Internal walls are rendered, timber beams are left exposed, Venetian plaster and oak linings are used for the archive.


  • Begun: Oct 1995
  • Completed: Nov 1997
  • Floor area: 722m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £1.9M
  • Procurement: JCT 80
  • Address: Ruskin Library, Lancaster university, Lancaster, LA1 4YH, United Kingdom

Professional Team