Location, opening times and costs

Where will the new University Library be located?
The new University Library will be located at the University’s Clifton campus on the site of The Hawthorns, BS8 1UQ, at the corner of Woodland Road and Elton Road.

Who will be able to use the library?
The new University Library will create opportunities for students, staff and the wider community to come together to learn, study and relax.

The ground floor will be open to everyone with access to exhibition galleries, events spaces, a new public art commission and a café. The Centre for Cultural Collections, which comprises Special Collections (an important collection of archives and rare books) and the Theatre Collection (an accredited museum and archive relating to the history of British theatre and live art), will also be on the ground floor and members of the public will be will be able to use reading rooms and other facilities within the Centre.

The upper floors will be open to University staff and students for study and research. Public access to other floors will be through a Library Visitor Scheme, enabling access to different parts of the building and the library collections (books and journals). We will be reviewing our visitor scheme and will be engaging with local sixth forms, post-16 centres and FE colleges as part of this process to identify how the new library can support their educational and learning needs.

What public events will be hosted at the new University Library?
Public events will be programmed to tie in with exhibitions and other activities, encouraging the public to explore our collections in more depth. We will liaise with Cultural Quarter colleagues so (whenever possible) programming is mutually supportive of other organisations activities. These events could take place in the Centre for Cultural Collections, the ground floor event space, the atrium and on occasion the top floor events space (out of term time). Events space will be managed on an event by event basis.

How much will it cost to use the new University Library?
The new University Library will be free to use by everyone.

What will be the opening hours for the new University Library?
There will be extended opening hours for staff and students (responding to need at busy exam periods).

Opening times for the public and access to the ground floor facilities are yet be determined but likely to be normal office hours. The Centre for Cultural Collections will be open to the public for a minimum of 30 hours a week, and there will be a planned programme of exhibitions and events at different times of the day and evening

How much is the new University Library costing?
Based on current plans, the University plans to invest in excess of £100 million in the construction of the new University Library and new civic square.

Who is paying for the new University Library?
The University is self-funding the library through surpluses from previous fee income, sales of university properties and from philanthropic donations.

Design and size

How big will the new University Library be and what will it look like?
The new University Library building will be around 14,000sqm in size with a stepped design that is initially three storeys tall and rises to seven-storeys to integrate with the local built environment.

Who designed the new University Library?
The building has been designed by a collaborative team formed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Hawkins/Brown and BuroHappold; organisations behind some of Europe’s top education and library projects.

Will the architectural style fit with the other buildings in the area?
The building is designed by award-winning architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen who have a reputation for building public libraries, including in Christchurch (New Zealand), Copenhagen and Aberdeen.

The new building is designed to sit within sight lines looking up Elton Road towards Senate House and up Woodland Road from the corner of Royal Fort Gardens. It will be built using sandstone, a common pattern with other new buildings across Bristol, and the verticals reflect the style of other Bristol buildings, such as the Will’s Memorial Building.

The team has worked closely with Bristol City Council planners to make sure the building works well in its environment.

How does the building respond to its historical context?
The design and massing of the new University Library have evolved through in-depth analysis of the historic context including the Conservation Area, the need to step up the site creating a transitional building between Elton Rd and Tyndall Ave and the relationship with other towers and listed buildings in the area.

High quality natural materials are employed, a full basement level introduced during pre-application consultation to slim the building down and exciting contemporary architectural design employed to create a landmark building as prescribed in SPD11. Any harm to the conservation area through a change in character, is vastly outweighed by the public benefits that accrue.

Safety and Security

How will you manage access into and out of the building?
We intend to the use the existing University access control system for access to specific areas of the building that are not open for general use.


What measures have you taken in the design to support the University’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030?
The new University Library building is being designed to achieve a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) “Excellent” rating. Measures to support our carbon neutral commitment include:

  • A passive first design approach which reduces energy loads in the first instance
  • LED lighting
  • Using heat from server equipment to provide heat to other parts of the building that require it
  • Generating renewable energy from solar photovoltaic panels
  • High efficiency heat recovery on air supply systems
  • Window sizing to reduce excessive solar heat gain
  • A low energy displacement ventilation system which is able to use free cooling for significant periods of the year
  • An environmental archive in the basement which is capable of maintaining thermal design conditions with zero heating and cooling

What is our sustainability strategy? How does it align with your recent declaration of a Climate emergency?
The University recognises both its impact on the environment and the role it plays both locally and nationally in addressing sustainability issues. We made a commitment within our Vision and Strategy 2016-2023 to continue to deliver our sustainable targets and have identified 14 key areas through which sustainability will be delivered – including sustainable buildings, travel and procurement; engagement with staff and students to encourage behaviour change; and education by providing opportunities for students to learn about sustainability through the Bristol Futures programme.

You say that the building is designed to be resilient to climate change, what do you mean by that?
Key elements include flood prevention measures; thermal mass helping to insulate the building to changes in temperature, efficient and low-energy systems to reduce future energy needs and reliance. We’ll also use future climate data to assess building systems and ensure they are fit for the future.

What actions are you taking as a University in relation to your commitment to take action on climate change?
We have an eight-point plan to reduce carbon emissions, from a £15m fund to reduce energy waste to the installation of renewable energy. Since 2005, we have reduced carbon emissions by 27%.

Public Realm/Landscaping

What plans are there for improved public realm in the area surrounding the new University Library?
The plans include a new civic square in between the new University Library and the refurbished Senate House, at the current Woodland Road/Tyndall Avenue junction, with proposed new road layouts that will improve public transport and traffic flow, enhance pedestrian and cycling routes in line with the council’s emerging policies, and make the whole area enjoyable, safer and accessible for everyone.

Does the plan for creating the civic square include closing down Tyndall Avenue?
Our latest plans do not include closing down Tyndall Avenue and will instead involve the pedestrianisation of the section of Woodland Road between the front of Senate House and the new University Library building thus being closed to car and bus traffic.

In addition, a raised table will be installed at the junction of Woodland Road/Tyndall Avenue/Elton Road, rerouting buses and traffic. It will provide a sense of arrival for Bristol Grammar School, the new University Library, Royal Fort Gardens and Senate House, as well as reduced traffic speeds through key areas, better crossing facilities and footways.

What impact will the civic square have on journey times to Bristol Grammar School?
The closure of a section of Woodland Road will change how some people access Bristol Grammar School.

From the North East, drivers would route along St Michael’s Hill and Tyndall Avenue (instead of Woodland Road and Tyndalls Park Road). This change is not expected to increase journey times in normal conditions. For the return journey to the North East, drivers would route along Elmdale Road and Tyndalls Park Road. This may increase journey times by one minute.

From the north west, drivers would route along Elmdale Road and University Road (instead of Tyndalls Park Road and Woodland Road). This may increase journey times by one minute.

For all other routes to and from the school, there is no impact on journey times. For cyclists and pedestrians, there is no impact on journey times. For bus users, journey times may decrease and/or become more reliable, due to the improved bus priority measures on Tyndall Avenue.


How many books will the new University Library hold?
The new University Library will house approximately 420,000 books, 70,000 journals and around 2,000 new study seats.

What is the Centre for Cultural Collections?
The new University Library will be home to the University of Bristol’s world-class Centre for Cultural Collections which will unite the University’s Special Collections and the Theatre Collection under one roof for the first time. These collections will also be supplemented by the public art that will have been commissioned and displayed within the adjacent public realm.

The Theatre Collection is an accredited museum and one of the world’s leading collections of British theatre history and live art. The Theatre Collection is also a Designated Collection – one of only 152 in England – which recognises the national importance of a collection and its value to society, based on the collection’s significance, quality and research value.

The Special Collections is internationally recognised as an important collection of rare books and archives, with particular strengths in politics and campaigning, literature and publishing, and science and medicine. It contains over five kilometres of materials, archives and books, objects, photograph, films and more; covering the 11th century up until present day.

The Centre for Cultural Collections will give the public access to these nationally significant resources through a year-round programme of exhibitions and complementary events, making use of a variety of spaces (such as exhibition galleries, reading rooms, viewing room) and activities (events, volunteering, etc) for a whole range of educational, creative and inspirational uses.

Will the public have access to all of the Cultural Collections?
All users of the Centre for Cultural Collections will be able to also consult library collections.

Access to collections:

  • Free visitor day pass (16+ years) for members of the public, school students – register on day, ID required, for up to 50 visitors per day. Access to open-access collections and spaces.
  • UoB (local) graduates: free visitor card, £60 fee for borrowing up to 20 items
  • Members of named local professional societies – fee applies
  • SCONUL access scheme – reciprocal staff and student scheme for member universities within UK and Ireland.

What are the reasons for including an exhibition space at the New University Library?
The provision of exhibition gallery spaces (which reach museum and GIS standards) will benefit Bristol as a city in a number of ways:

  1. It will strengthen the emerging Cultural Quarter and the synergies (and visitor flow) between arts and heritage offer at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Royal West of England Academy, Georgian House, Red Lodge and New Library. There will be plenty of opportunities for cross programming between for example the TC and RWA (there is a proven track record in exhibition co-curation) and partnership projects with, for example, Special Collection and SSGB/Brunel Institute (a strengthening partnership), SC and Georgian House (Pinney papers) or TC and Bristol Old Vic & Bristol Archives (ref recent £2.3m HLF project).
  2. It will also help alleviate the problem in the city with the shortage of flexible, temporary exhibition space and we will programme temporary exhibitions that respond to need (for example our audience development consultants are exploring key target audiences at present to develop and audience development plan that responds to city and region’s needs). It is envisaged that the temp exhibition spaces will have a range of pre-planned, touring, and pop up exhibitions – which will enhance public engagement with UoB collections and activities.
  3. The TC permanent exhibition gallery will celebrate the important role Bristol has – and continues to have – in UK theatre economy and it will showcase our partnerships with companies such as Bristol Old Vic, Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, Desperate Men etc as well as the work of individuals (from actors to contemporary performance artists) and festivals such as IBT.  Likewise, Bristol as a Unesco city of film will be supported by featuring AV displays such as those of Wildscreen archives in the UoB temporary gallery.
  4. All exhibitions will be free and open to all with overarching principles of supporting wellbeing, inclusivity, accessibility, and representation. They will serve to break down any perceived barriers between city and University, share our collections and enable us to showcase the work of the university (academic research) in a public facing environment.
  5. New University Library will include potential for ‘pop-up’ exhibits

 How will the new University Library work with other universities / education bodies?
The new University Library will support and work with a range of education providers, including:

  • The Theatre Collection is in receipt of Research England funding, which recognises the vital role it plays in supporting research and education in HE and FE establishments across the UK.
  • Both the University’s Special Collections and the Theatre Collection support a number of further and higher education providers including hosting student visits from UWE Bristol, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Circomedia, City of Bristol College and many others.

Both Collections also receive occasional study visits by groups and individuals. The new University Library offers the potential to work more closely with schools across the city in the future.

Vision and community

What is the vision for the new University Library?
The new University Library will transform the heart of the University’s Clifton campus and provide an architecturally significant new building for the City, along with improved external public spaces.

The overarching objective is to create a world-class Library at the centre of the University of Bristol that reflects the University and the City’s proud tradition of academic excellence with an innovative, forward thinking spirit.

The new University Library is a key part of the Campus Heart programme which is transforming the area around Tyndall Avenue. This includes providing new and enhanced facilities, improvements to public spaces and creating a welcoming heart to the University.

How have you involved the local community in your plans?
Since the very start we have involved and will continue to involve a wide range of stakeholders, local residents and community groups on our plans.

Since then, consultations were extended to include local residents and the wider community to help shape our plans, with public consultation events, an online survey and an exhibition held in October 2019. We have encouraged and are grateful to everyone who shared their thoughts and their support for our planning application via the Bristol City Council website.

What relationship will the new University Library have with the Bristol City Council-run libraries, given the uncertain future of some?
The University’s Director of Library Services is regularly meeting with the Council Librarian and with UWE.


How will you make the new University Library accessible to people from other parts of Bristol?
We encourage people from all over Bristol to visit the new University Library. We are working with the City Council to ensure we have good transport links between our new campus at Temple Quarter and Clifton. The library is positioned next to the national cycle route and our plans for the public realm will make the area more pedestrian and cycle friendly.

We are also in discussions regarding increasing the frequency of the Severn Beach train service.

How will the new University Library ensure it accommodates a range of inclusivity and accessibility needs?
The new University Library will be inclusive and accessible, creating an environment where diversity is valued and everyone feels supported. 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.

Transport and Parking

What car parking/cycle spaces/disabled parking will be provided?
The existing departmental and visitor parking spaces are being removed and cycle parking facilities will be significantly increased, including the creation of more than 300 cycle parking spaces within the NUL and wider public realm; Disabled parking and set down is included in the plan.

What plans are you putting in place to mitigate parking issues in surrounding areas?
The design proposals have sought to limit changes to on-street parking capacity wherever possible. Transport Consultants have reviewed the impact of the small loss in a Transport Assessment (TA) report. The conclusion of the TA is that the impact on parking is minimal, and this finding has been confirmed by Bristol City Council following their review of the TA.

Is the proposed bus stop (transport hub) on Tyndall Avenue big enough?
The bus hub has been designed with sufficient capacity for three full-size U1 double deck buses utilizing the eastbound stops concurrently, as well as two local services using the westbound stops. Large ‘Metrobus style’ bus shelters are proposed to accommodate the increase demand from bus users.

The bus company responsible for operating the services has been consulted on proposals, as have Bristol City Council. The proposals represent a significant increase over the existing level of provision and will meet the expected level of University and non-University demand for bus services.

How will the new Library connect with the rest of the University? Are you providing additional transport facilities between the new Library and the new campus at Temple Quarter?
We encourage our staff and students to walk, cycle or use public transport to access all of our properties. The new campus is highly accessible, but we are also working with the City Council to improve connections to it including connecting to the University’s Clifton Campus and other University venues.

How many additional bus journeys are being planned for?
We are reviewing a number of options based on the anticipated need. Plans are in the early stages of development and are ongoing.

Construction and disruption

How will you manage any disruption during construction?
A construction management plan will be developed to help minimise impact on our neighbours and the wider area during the demolition and build. We will be looking at opportunities for off-site prefabrication as much as possible and investigating off-site logistics areas for parking and storage.

Dates and times for each stage of construction will be published along with the relevant contact details for raising any issues or questions.

We will do all that we can to minimise any disruption and ensure any local residents or businesses that might be affected by the construction are notified in a timely manner.

Will you offer local apprenticeships and jobs for local people, including ex-offenders?
In our tender documentation we ask contractors to ensure that apprenticeships and jobs are provided for local people.

How long will the construction of the new University Library building take?
Including demolition works, the construction of the new University Library building is expected to take 3 years.

How will current users/facilities in The Hawthorns be re-provided and where?
Student study space and an enhanced café offering and catering services will be provided within the refurbished/extended Senate House and will be open to public. There will also be a café in the new library open to members of the public.

There is a University-wide strategy being developed for the re-provision and/or relocation of the existing Hawthorns facilities within the University estate.

What will happen to the existing ASSL (Arts & Social Sciences Library) and how will the new library serve the wider University including TQEC?
This has not yet been determined but in principle, includes significant numbers of study spaces that are currently to be retained to allow the University to meet the standards required.

What will happen to the building currently occupied by the Theatre Collection?
This has yet to be determined but will be communicated once a decision has been made.

How will the new University Library building affect the amount of natural light on neighbouring properties?
A comprehensive shadow study has been completed and concluded the new University Library building will not adversely affect the amount of daylight and sunlight on neighbouring properties, and in some cases the levels of light received will actually increase slightly.

Will you be closing/digging up the roads?
Our proposals will result in changes to the junction of Woodland Road, Elton Road and Tyndall Avenue.

A number of other minor works to the public highway are required on Elton Road, Woodland Avenue and the junction of St Michael’s Hill / Tyndalls Park Road. Any road closures or traffic management measures will be advertised in advance, with diversion routes (if needed) clearly signed.

How will the construction affect the existing trees on site?
The building has been pulled back from the boundary to provide tree protection zone and minimise tree loss. 8 trees have been identified for removal which will be replaced by more than double the number of additional new trees (18) in line with the Council’s tree replacement strategy.