Magdalene College, New Library, Cambridge
The new three-storey building for Magdalene College in Cambridge was crowned RIBA Stirling Prize winner 2022, praised by the judges for its exceptional engagement with environmental design principles, overarching commitment to build something that will stand the test of time, and for the well-designed environments that hugely improve student success and wellbeing.
It replaces the college’s current library facilities, and contains an archive facility and picture gallery.
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the New Library is a purpose-built space inside of the college for Magdalene students to meet, work, relax and find inspiration.
"The design of this library has been strongly influenced by the requirements to passively light - characterised by the roof lanterns - and naturally ventilate the spaces (characterised by the stack effect ventilation chimneys and openings in the roof). Overall, the project presents exceptional engagement with environmental design principles." - RIBA Stirling Prize judges
The site is set within the historic fellows’ garden in the college grounds. Due to its proximity to a number of listed buildings as well as a number of significant trees on the site amongst which the building has been carefully nestled, a sensitive solution was required.
Working alongside Niall McLaughlin Architects, we provided M&E Engineering and Acoustics for this project.
"While the exterior elevations reflect the gabled brick buildings near by, the interior embraces cross-laminated timber and hardwood to create a welcoming yet modern environment for serious study, and is lit by carefully considered windows that ensure an even level of light but preserve the privacy of the Master’s Garden." - The Times
The building form was strongly driven by a desire for natural light, and to provide controlled natural ventilation via louvres and high-level openings in the chimneys. These allow for spaces to be well lit and comfortable without needing additional energy for artificial lighting and fans. The passive archive in the centre of the library is designed not to rely on energy intensive climate control systems. Dynamic modelling of the building physics meant the large, glazed areas and natural ventilation system could be simulated to ensure the building would not overheat in hot weather. The lifecycle impact of the building was also carefully considered, with the majority of the building built in timber and reusable brick and lime mortar.
Due to the sensitivities and constraints of the site, a bespoke approach to the planning requirements was agreed with the local authority. Instead of 10% on-site renewables, the approach looked to minimise the carbon emissions of the development.
"The new College Library [...] will support our vision to combine an outstanding heritage from the past with an ambitious and forward-looking ethos in support of academic excellence today." - Magdalene College