Original features

October 8, 2009

Although the University of Portsmouth has had a single, purpose-built library since 1976, which was extended in 1988, changing technology and huge expansion in student numbers have left it unsuitable for present-day needs.

In 2003, it was decided to incorporate the existing building into a modern, 10,000-square-metre complex.

Designed after a competition organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the library was opened by the crime writer P. D. James in 2007.

It forms a focal point on the campus, set behind a large plaza on the edge of Ravelin Park.

The stone upper floors, with inset timber bays, stand on a base of seminar rooms designed to resemble the Napoleonic-era fortress known as a "ravelin", once located on the site.

The designers sought to avoid the "stuffiness" often associated with libraries and to minimise energy consumption by making optimal use of natural lighting.

Group study rooms look down on the "street", which runs through the three-storey entrance hall, where bridges link the original structure with the new extension.

Reading bays offer views over the landscaped courtyard, green roof and park beyond.


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