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Underpinned by our Scandinavian design heritage, we bring you regular stories about architecture and interiors, exploring natural materials, acoustics, and the creation of safe and harmonious environments.
The concept of a library for books seems almost redundant in this world of heightened technology and working from home. So what is the purpose of a university library now, or is it fulfilling multiple functions? And if so, how does an architect juggle the new needs of students, while protecting a university’s collections and archives? And is the library still about silence?
Founded in 1968, Associated Architects is an award-winning practice with offices in Birmingham, Leeds and Oxford. Experts in many university campus building types, the practice focuses on sustainable and flexible educational buildings that can change to meet future needs and increased student numbers. Among their designs are the Main Library at the University of Birmingham, David Wilson Library at the University of Leicester, The Edward Boyle Library at University of Leeds, and The Davison Library at Royal Holloway University of London.
Opened in 2017, and located on a site steeped in history, the Davison Library was designed according to Passivhaus principles, achieving a BREEAM Excellent rating. Here, Joe Belcher of Associated Architects discusses how to create a sustainable building as a showcase for a university, sharing his 7 top library design strategies and key learnings from The Davison Library project.
Libraries now are not just about books, but information in all formats, and knowledge exchange. For students it’s about being part of a collective, a community of learners. Designing a library is an opportunity to create that environment, for concentration in the presence of others. Libraries can be the active heart of university life, offering a wide range of services.
At Royal Holloway we have the career service, student advice service, students’ union shop, café, exhibition gallery and archive – a broad remit!. For universities it’s a competitive market so they are highly motivated towards delivering a great student experience and increasing study spaces.
Following passive design principles, we focused on a high-efficiency building fabric and high levels of daylight penetration; exposing the thermal mass of the concrete frame which helps to regulate internal temperature; displacement ventilation with air passing through the floor and out naturally through the atrium roof-lights; and long-lasting, self-finished, high-quality materials, to reduce maintenance, damage and waste.
Internally we made extensive use of natural, whitened and black-pigmented Oak, with Oak veneered acoustic panels and linear ribs on walls and ceilings, creating a variety of spatial experiences and a calm, pared-back look. Rich accented colours in the carpets and upholstery add character and change when needed.
There is a helpful symbiosis, because books need protection from daylight, which means that they can be at the heart of a library plan, whereas people want to be at the edges, enjoying daylight and views. Looking at the Davison Library, the high degree of glazing brings daylight into the study spaces, conducive to long periods of concentration.
At Royal Holloway, we wanted to create a transformative building and landscape, providing views of the historic asset of the campus, the gothic revival Founder’s Building. The library has a modern envelope but draws inspiration from the materials, detailing and rich tones of the historic building opposite.
Creating spaces with silence remains an interesting element in library design, but variety is important. The challenge is to separate noisy functions, which are part of an active building. Our solutions at the Davison Library were to create a triple-height atrium with doors to the most active uses – the student services, café and gallery. The library spaces are then arranged on a series of wings, either side of the atrium, allowing for different acoustic environments, while bridges with social study spaces at the upper levels criss-cross to activate and enliven the atrium, with glazed screens to the library wings.
At Royal Holloway, we set into the lower-ground floor an environmentally controlled, four-hour fire-resistant archive and adjacent art store, providing secure storage for books, art and artefacts. You have to consider security-proofing, fire resistance and fire suppression; temperature and humidity regulation; low light levels and robust waterproofing. As well as the closely controlled storage area, staff and students need to bring artefacts out to study or repair, without too much movement around the building. Our solution at Royal Holloway was to introduce a degree of top light at the front end of the special collections reading-room through a roof light, so daylight could be experienced immediately adjacent to storage.
Mondo Arkitekter build Sweden’s first carbon neutral house.
Colour expert Karen Haller tells us how behavioural colour and design psychology can create harmonious interiors.
Gustafs introduces Feltfon Linear, a customisable linear felt solution which gives a soft, warmth to walls and ceilings.
Thomas Sandell on design with an enduring appeal.
From courtrooms to concert halls. We list five favourite projects that use ash.
Shaping design from ancient times until today
The patterns and colours of our most popular veneers.
How natural influences can improve learning environments
Architect Andrew Waugh talks about his appreciation of timber
Anna Graaf’s three thoughts on circularity.
Exploring biophilia in architecture and design.
Sweden’s sustainable approach to building materials.
Jan Ammundsen talks through Denmark’s gamechanging Klimatorium scheme
An overview of how material choices affect sound absorption in a workplace environment.
Ola Jonsson C.F. Møller’s sustainable approach to materials
We explore how workplace design can be adapted for people with neurodiverse conditions.
A conversation with Daniel Rönnqvist, Architect and Accessibility Consultant at Gatun Arkitekter, about human-centered architecture and workplace design.
3XN’s Design Director explains the studio’s approach to material selection.
Architect Colin Moses reflects on his key learnings from the University of Bedfordshire library project.
Exploring how architects can create happy cities by designing for mental wellbeing.
Fire engineer Håvard Strøm Halvorsen examines interiors with wooden ribs.
Property developer Folkhem’s Anna Ervast Öberg talks about her favourite material.
An interview with Graven’s Ross Hunter on designing multi-use education spaces.
The benefits of avoiding fire retardants, and other important points.
Workplaces designed with acoustics in mind can avoid noise and stress.
Joe Belcher lists his key learnings from The Davison Library, University of London.
We chat to Kristian Ahlmark of Schmidt Hammer Lassen about how this “city within a city” was designed for the local community.
We examine how architects focus on daylight, acoustics and materials in educational facilities.
Experiencing how buildings sound at the design stage: we look at a new research project of sound simulation software.
Gert Wingårdh talks ten years of the Spira Culture Centre.
Wood and other natural materials boost wellbeing and harmony in the home.
Take a trip around Arlanda VIP Services as Mark Humphreys of Tengbom Arkiteker explains how it epitomises Scandinavian style.
Jenny Lovebo of Linnaeus University answers three questions on the wellbeing effects of forests.
The wooden interior of Hejmdal Cancer Patients House.
Exploring the trend for vertical wood panelling.
Architect Annika Askerblom of AIX explains how interior design and acoustic excellence were combined to create stunning performances spaces.
We explore how reducing noise and creating harmonious sound environments can improve wellbeing.
Why forest bathing is here to save your social life: exploring how woodland walks have become the new way of socialising.
Want to get the best out of your digital and hybrid meetings? Get your acoustics right.
The legendary Swedish acoustician Jan-Inge Gustafsson joins us for a conversation about concert halls, collaborating with architects, and the creative process.
We ask fire consultant Anders Bach Vestergaard of COWI consulting to answer three questions about the creation of safe, beautiful and design-led wooden interiors.
In this article we explore the Scandinavian culture of educational sloyd, and its potential to inspire future generations of wood-centric designers.
The interior details that transformed the Chamber in the Swedish parliament.
The story of our heritage: from a forest in rural Sweden, based on traditions of carpentry and craftsmanship, to world-leading wood panel systems.
Recalling the challenges and joys of making a spectacular acoustic solution happen – from design to installation.
Wood is nature’s original stress-reliever, and studies have proven that its use in the built environment can greatly improve our wellbeing.
We talk to Wingårdhs Arkitektkontor on the future of offices and the shifting role of workspaces.
Introducing Lamellow+ from Gustafs, a beautiful combination of felt and wood for indoor public spaces with natural fire safety properties.
Gustaf’s collaboration with Cisco has resulted in a fantastic conference solution that has been awarded with Red Dot: Best of the best
We have developed a new design for our timber slats. A narrower model is now available for walls and ceilings.
The project Lund’s district court is featured on Archdaily – Building of the year award. The project is featured under Best applied products.
Once again we have a new product to present at the Stockholm furniture fair – come and experience our new meeting pod.
Architect Arata Isozaki has been awarded the pritker prize. One of his projects is QNCC, which consists largely of Gustaf’s interior panels
Gustafs Gpod is our new Office meeting pod, designed for both meetings but also as an exclusive wooden furniture with perfect acoustics.
During the Stockholm Furniture Fair we will be launching a brand new product – we’re redefining the workplace, again
We continue to develop our product range. It is now possible to install spotlights as D-Line, we introduce Gustafs D-Line Spot
Once again DTU Building 202 has been awarded for it’s design. This time the prestigious Detail Inside Special Prize.
Introducing Linear RIB-S design. a new design with sharper edges that give the increased feel of a solid wooden rib.
Gustafs D-Line is our new integrated LED lighting system, fully compatibel with our Linear System – LED lighting for wall and ceilings.
Bedfordshire library project has been awarded the RIBA East Award 2018. We are delighted to have been part of this project.
The stunning project DTU building 202 has been awarded the Carpentry Prize 2017. We are proud to have delivered our panels to the project.
The Brunel Building of Southmead Hospital has been awarded European Healthcare Design 2017. Gustafs and LSA have produced and supplied panels to the project.
Gustafs together with LSA have produced and supplied slatted wood panels to this new library at Bedfordshire University.
The Royal College of Music in Stockholm is one of ten projects nominated for Stockholm Building of the Year.
Gustafs are producing interior acoustic wood panels for all music venues at the new royal college of music in Stockholm.
Gustafs have been awarded by the contractor Skanske for our environmental work at the project site NKS, we are truly glad!
Gustafs have contributed with interior wall panels in laminate and wood surfaces to the BREEAM Building of the year project.
Our brand new dark fibre gypsum core can be used to hide the perforations in a better way, using dark veneered wood panels.
Gustafs have won the Malmö Live contract and will produce and install interior wall and ceiling panels for this spectacular venue.
We’re happy to announce Gustafs’ first ever project in China. We have produced and supplied this auditorium with wood panels.
This summer Gustafs celebrated 100 years as a business, with the start of Andreas Tunander acquired the business back in 1913.
Together with our Russian supplier, Gustafs has manufactured and delivered fireproof wooden panels for this historic building.
Gustafs Linear System is our brand new cladding system with linear design, utilizing real wood veneer and a Quick-Up installation system.
Gustafs’ wood panels are now certified with fire classification A2-s1,d0 according to the European fire class.