Original features

October 22, 2009

When the University of Edinburgh's Grade A-listed Main Library, designed by Sir Basil Spence, was completed in 1967, it was the largest university library in Britain and one of the decade's outstanding new buildings in Scotland.

Now, as part of a £60 million redevelopment, three of its eight floors have been completely refurbished.

The redesigned areas were officially opened last month by the author Ian Rankin, who wrote his first two novels in the library as a postgraduate.

The new design opens up the space, removing walls where possible, and improves links between the interior and the greenery all round.

Different layouts, furniture and materials have been used to create distinct "quiet" and "vibrant" spaces for group work and contemplative "cool zones" for solo study.

The ground floor incorporates steel and glass barriers leading to the help desk, surmounted by three huge, suspended projection screens, as well as the "HUB" (high-use book collection).

Shelf-ends and specially created bookmarks reproduce short poems inspired by 100 books held in the library's collection.

Together, these form the basis of an artwork by Alec Finlay titled Interleaved.


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