A world-class library for a world-class university

The University of Bristol has ambitions to build a new University Library at the centre of our Clifton campus. This new library will lie at the heart of our University education and research endeavour, supporting our core mission for the next century.  

The new University Library (NUL) will be built on the site of The Hawthorns, at the corner of Woodland Road and Elton Road. It has been designed by a collaborative team formed by Hawkins/Brown, Schmidt Hammer Lassen and BuroHappold – companies behind some of Europe’s top education and library projects – and result in a high-quality architectural addition to the city landscape.

A new library for the University and the city of Bristol

The NUL forms a key part of the University’s vision and strategy for transforming our Clifton campus, which includes providing new and enhanced facilities, improvements to public spaces and creating a welcoming heart to the University for students, staff and the wider community.

This architecturally significant building will support the University’s civic responsibility by providing state-of-the-art library facilities for our staff, students and visitors, and support cutting-edge research into our most significant societal challenges. It will also support the intellectual development of generations of future scholars, who will become global ambassadors for the city of Bristol.

The NUL will be a stimulating and nurturing learning environment providing world-class academic facilities that foster innovation in teaching, student attainment and new research partnerships. The building will accommodate learning and research space and provide:

  • capacity for around 2,000 new study seats
  • approximately 420,000 books and 70,000 journals
  • a new space to showcase Bristol’s world-class cultural collections
  • a museum style café, exhibition gallery space and reading rooms, open to all

A welcoming space for all

The NUL will be a new cultural destination for the city of Bristol. The ground floor of the library will be fully open to the public and is designed to be accessible to all. It will welcome students, staff and Bristol’s communities by opening up exhibition spaces and the University’s accredited museum and archive services, including the renowned Theatre Collection and world-class Special Collections.

These cultural resources will be exhibited for the first time with a year-round programme of exhibition and events through the Centre for Cultural Collections and will be open to everyone in the city and beyond.

Inclusivity and accessibility are key facets of this project and the library building will support the wellbeing of staff, students and visitors by incorporating the latest innovations in library design, theory and practice.

This £100m project has been designed to the highest aesthetic and environmental standards, with a commitment to inclusiveness and openness manifest through the building’s design, space requirements and the activities within.

All aspects of the building will support access for all and the design includes a ‘Changing Places’ toilet facility, designed to meet the needs of people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. This facility is one of only a few in Bristol.

Improvements to surrounding public spaces

The new library will also sit in a new civic square, providing a welcoming and inspiring public realm for the whole city. This pedestrianised area between the NUL and refurbished Senate House will create a sense of arrival and better connect the area with Royal Fort Gardens.

The proposed new road layouts will improve traffic flow, enhance pedestrian and cycling routes and make the whole area enjoyable, safer and accessible for everyone.

The library will also have a green terraced roof for people to enjoy.

Part of the Campus Heart programme

The NUL and public realm plans are the cornerstone of Campus Heart programme which is transforming the centre of our campus into a vibrant hub for the University and city community.

Since the start of the programme in 2018, the University has already improved a number of its spaces and facilities for the benefit of our staff, students and members of the local community.

These changes include a larger and better equipped Indoor Sports Centre providing bigger class capacities, improved changing facilities and faster access; and a new environmentally friendly and fully wheelchair accessible café – Source Garden Café – offering sustainable, ethically sourced food and great coffee.

Find out more about Campus Heart by visiting https://www.bristol.ac.uk/campus-heart/