Rick Mather Architects won the competition to design a new library and archive building for The Queen's College in 2006. The college was founded in 1341 and the Upper Library dates from 1692-1695, originally believed to be from designs by Christopher Wren. The Lower Library was created by C.R. Cockerell in 1843. The New Library's sloping rooflight above the reading room will give magnificent views up to the west elevation of the old library. The building will provide an additional 7000 ft² (650m²) and will be almost invisible below the library terrace. The new library is partially sunk into the Provost's garden and is linked to the old library.
The design of the New Library seeks to minimise visual impact within the existing Provost's Garden whilst also providing a new reading room and facilities with a connection, both physical and visual, to the existing library. Within the existing library a new link will be created from the main entrance to the New Library. The Upper Library will have new environmental controls to help protect the books and increase the comfort of users. The overriding design principle of the New Library was to allow users to enjoy the natural light and to protect the books from it. As the section drawing shows, a rooflight runs from north to south illuminating the reading room and the staff offices with the HCAS farthest from the natural light. The rooflight will also give spectacular views of the west façade of the existing library - a view previously only glimpsed over garden walls.
The new Library provides 30 reader spaces with additional provision for a dedicated Historic Collections reading room for 6 readers and a multi-purpose room for 6 readers. A new Peet Library of Egyptology is also housed in the New Library with 6 reader spaces. A new Historic Collections and Archive Store (HCAS) is provided which will house the College's antiquarian collection in optimum conditions (18°C, 50% relative humidity).
Within the existing Lower Library the bookcases added in the 1930s are removed returning it closer to its appearance upon completion by Cockerell in the 1840s. A new seating area in the centre would give views both to Back Quad and the Provost's Garden. Each carrel would house one reader and every desk will have power and a network connection. Heating and cooling will be provided by a new system installed in the existing floor void utilizing the existing grilles. In the Upper Library dating from 1692, as in the Lower Library, new services are added including solar control, lighting, all installed without visible alteration.
Mather picks up second Oxford victory
Richard Vaughan - 14 July 06
The Queen's College