Holiday homework: Transforming a disused basement library into a brand-new inspirational teaching space.
The University of Birmingham wanted to breathe new life into their redundant basement library to create new offices, breakout spaces and a cafe for staff. The challenge - with a tight due-date, all work needed to be completed by the start of term, a turnaround time of just 11 weeks!
We started the project by refurbishing the old split level ground floor library to create new offices, focused around a centralised breakout and alternate-working area. This created an incredible sense of space, with double height ceilings being overlooked from the first floor mezzanine.
Bringing the outdoors in
We took down sections of the old curtain walls and replaced them with doors to the adjoining courtyard garden, allowing staff to access the outdoors through the breakout space. This also allows an abundance of light to flow through to the double-height atrium space. Wood trimming was then used to soften the exposed concrete throughout the space, providing a modern and natural twist on the building's exposed concrete and brutalist origins.
Lighting it up
The works included a new electrical installation with feature lighting hanging above the double-height breakout space. New glazed screen walls were installed on the mezzanine and finished with a geometrical coloured film to let natural light flow into the rooms through the mezzanine space.
A social scene
The new shared social space features built-in seating along with tables and chairs to enhance the versatility and capacity of the space. Wooden partitioning was used to divide the space and create a sense of intimacy, yet retain the open plan feel. Bespoke joinery was provided throughout the rest of the fit out, with a new reception desk, feature screens and of course a new kitchen for the adjoining cafe.
The new facilities provide a modern working and meeting space for staff, creating a real social heart for the University's Education Faculty.