We were commissioned by the University to prepare the Options Appraisal for the Templeman Library in 2008, a piece of work based on a very enjoyable dialogue with the University’s Information Services senior team.

At that time the brief was to consider the Library and options for its expansion and development to cater for a thriving university and a changing student and research environment. We were then shortlisted to design a new extension to the library.

The brief had changed significantly, in that teaching and meeting accommodation had become a core part of the vision for the new extension. At first we thought that this would be a matter for accommodating two very different uses in one building in as harmonious a way as could be managed, but as we worked on our design we came to see that an exciting synergy between the two could be realised if they were together but separated in a certain way.

This idea has led to our conception of the entrance and its location at the west end of the existing building, as a concourse between the new and old parts, connecting existing teaching facilities to the main University civic space. The new atrium allows the existing building to be altered to provide cafe, social and browsing areas close to the teaching spaces (so providing a useful and sociable place for people to go between lectures and meetings) and for the Library entrance to be repositioned off the atrium, as the welcoming entrance and reception space at the head of a sequence of library spaces organised along the long axis of the building.

Our competitors were Associated Architects, BDP, Hawkins Brown and Penoyre & Prasad, who were awarded the project.