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New Library at Magdalene College by Níall McLaughlin Architects breaks ground

Published: Monday, October 15, 2018

Níall McLaughin Architects' latest project to build a new library on a historically significantsite at Magdalene College, Cambridge broke ground at a ceremony held on the 27th September.

The building will be located on the edge of The Fellows’ Garden, adjacent to the Grade I listed Pepys Library. The proposal is to construct a high quality, durable and sustainable new library building which will form an important component of the College’s facilities and will help to enable the College to fulfill its aim to provide world-class education.

The new library will replace the existing College undergraduate library housed within the Pepys Building with far larger, and better-appointed facilities. This in turn will facilitate a separate project for the refurbishment of the Pepys Building to provide improved public and scholarly access to the Pepys Library.

The ground floor will contain the library reception and an archive centre, together with a gallery for the display of paintings from an important collection of East Anglian watercolours which will be bequeathed to the college and offer space for travelling exhibitions. The first and second floors of the new building will contain a series of reading rooms of varying levels of enclosure, all linked by book-lined passageways. The main rooms create a spatial sequence that brings visitors through a three storey, to a two storey and then a single storey main reading room. Each room is lit from roof lanterns. Both public and private study areas enjoy views over the Fellows’ Garden, towards the River Cam.

The external form is driven by the internal arrangement of the library and the requirement to naturally ventilate the building. From this, an external architecture of gabled roofs, bay windows and chimneys is developed that refers to the language of the existing College buildings.

The new library aims to continue the existing historical development of buildings, courts and gardens and will establish a rich relationship between study areas and the Fellows’ Garden.

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