University of Reading - Library

Built in the 1960’s and extended in 1984, the Library at Whiteknights Campus at the University of Reading was, by 2012, in need of upgrading both to keep up with changing study patterns, and to overhaul it’s general appearance.

The question of what to do with the building had long been discussed, with various studies generating options ranging from demolition to extension. Against this, the need for improvement internally was becoming more and more acute, with the building constantly receiving negative feedback.

When refurbishing the University of Reading's library, bof and Stride Treglown Architects aimed to create collaborative study areas that would accommodate various size groups. Based on years of experience in the Education sector; bof understood that not all students are comfortable working in large groups, this meant that individual study areas were also required.

To keep up with modern teaching/learning styles, technology was an important consideration, both the furniture and interior needed to seamlessly integrate with technology to allow students to work in spaces they were familiar with, this included the installation of power sockets in each workspace and TV screens used around the library for collaborative learning and presentations.

All the way through, we kept in mind that the ‘bigger project’ could come along at any point, therefore we worked to incorporate features that might be re-used and mitigate waste in the future. Furniture and mobile/demountable solutions were identified as key elements of the project, with the University appreciating that an investment in high quality furniture would pay dividends in the long term. The finished design scheme featured a variety of world leading brands. Boss Design 'Vista' pods were utilised for large group based study, Vitra 'Joyn' desking was used to create large surface areas for collaborative study. The new 'Workbay' range from Vitra was used in a variety of layouts to create spaces for smaller groups to study or for individuals to have peaceful areas for learning; this flagship project was the first installation of this new innovative product in the UK.

“bof were fully involved in determining the Library’s furniture requirements and worked closely with our architect/interior designer to ensure the end result was co-ordinated with the overall scope of works.”

Will Broadway, Project Manager