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Bedfordshire transforms campus with new library building

The University of Bedfordshire opens its stunning new £46m library on the university's Luton campus. Marcus Wooley tells us more

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | December 20, 2016 | Facilities management

Q. What will this new facility offer to new and current students to boost their student experience? 

A. The University of Bedfordshire is absolutely committed to and focused on improving the student experience and our new library is an example of this commitment. With this library we have created learning spaces that will inspire, engage and support our students to achieve their potential.

Q. How did the design for the new library come about? 

A. The design for the new library was very much a cooperative venture between the architects Moses Cameron Williams and the students and staff at the University.

However, it was our students who were at the heart of the design for the new library. We wanted to ensure that it was fit for purpose for how students want to learn and not how we think they ought to learn.

The design team started their process by meeting with groups of students to listen to their thoughts about the features that should be included in the new library. As work progressed students were able to evaluate the fixtures and fittings, attend meetings with designers and contractors and the potential fixtures and furniture types were displayed in our old library for students to comment on. 

As you walk through the library you will see the evidence of the student impact on the design. The student groups suggested:

  • A grand building to engender civic pride 
  • The building should look like a library with a café on the ground floor 
  • Student lockers should be provided
  • Rooms where they could practise their presentations with their friends 
  • A secure space where they would feel at home. 

I believe we have achieved each and every one of those ambitions.

Q. How important were sustainable values in the design and build of the new library?  

A. Environmental impact and sustainability was a major consideration throughout the design process. We are on target to achieve a BREEAM rating of excellent for the building. 

The new library heating and hot water needs will be met by a district heating system which is connected with the University’s other buildings, resulting in much lower costs for the University and more space available for learning resources. It will also be highly thermally efficient, keeping down energy consumption as well as CO2 emissions. In addition the roof structure houses a rainwater-harvesting system and a 50 peak kilowatt hour photovoltaic facility, which will renewably generate a good proportion of the energy needs of the building.

Q. Are there existing plans to develop/refurbish further learning and living spaces on campus in the future? 

A. This library forms part of an estates investment totalling £180m over five years. That includes our unique Postgraduate and CPD centre on our Luton campus, the stunning teaching and learning Gateway building at our Bedford campus, and our new building in Luton devoted to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which we expect to break ground on soon.  

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