University of Leicester library wins architectural excellence award
Success for Leicester in RIBA EM Awards for Architecture

The University of Leicester's excitingly refurbished and extended main campus library has been honoured for its architectural excellence in the 2008 RIBA EM Awards for Architecture.
These prestigious awards, designed to celebrate the finest examples of architectural excellence in the region, are presented annually by the Royal British Institute of Architects, East Midlands, in association with Ibstock Brick and emda, the East Midlands Development Agency.


Designed by Birmingham-based Associated Architects, the award-winning David Wilson library is located at the heart of the main campus of the University of Leicester, adjacent to the Grade 11 listed Fielding Johnson Building and the acclaimed Engineering Building by Sir James Stirling.
Originally built in the 1970s, the new look library was planned as a 'thought provoking and complementary addition' to the existing high quality campus landscape and is used by over 22,000 students.



Key features include low energy consumption, maximum use of natural daylight and minimal need for air conditioning. The library, with its new facade, includes a 500-seat basement lecture theatre, conference facilities, study and seminar rooms, 1,500 reader places, 350 IT desks with wireless network, IT training rooms, a bookshop and a 120-seat cafe.


The RIBA EM citation stated:
“Externally and internally the David Wilson Library at the University of Leicester is a stylish and elegant building. Situated at the heart of the Leicester campus and flanked by listed buildings and the iconic Stirling Engineering Building, the new Library holds its own. Reuse of the existing library building with a new extension creates a confident set of spaces including a 500-person lecture theatre with its own public entrance.

The open circulation atrium is key to the design. It lies at the heart of the Library areas, making it easy to understand the general arrangement of facilities and enabling users on different levels to be aware of one another. Careful thought has been given to access issues. This is a sensitively handled refurbishment and new surfaces run seamlessly alongside the original structure. Much of the original structural concrete frame was reused and stripped back, demolition waste recycled and materials sourced sustainably.
Challenged by the requirement to keep the Library open for 22,000 students during all the building works, the architects used off site construction as much as possible and selected materials to ease construction time.
Thoughtful detailing, the lighting, a limited palette of materials, and controlled signage enhance the ordered and legible arrangement of these fine facilities.


Key environmental aspects were high insulation levels, maximizing use of natural daylight and a mixed mode system with natural ventilation through a stack effect. Solar gain is counteracted by an experimental solar shade which incorporates 3 types of photovoltaic, a triple glazed ‘solar wall’ and conventional brise soliel and blinds.
Despite the complexities of the project the architects have successfully delivered a facility of quality of which the University can rightly be proud."
Pro-Vice-Chancellor and University Librarian Christine Fyfe said: “'We're delighted to have won this prestigious award which recognizes the superb design quality of the David Wilson Library. The award testifies to the excellent working relationship between the architects and the University, creating a building that is both architecturally excellent and a joy to use.”


Another architectural triumph for Leicester is the city's visionary new Samworth Enterprise Academy on Saffron Lane, which has been Commended in this year's RIBA EM Awards for Architecture.
Designed by architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the Samworth Enterprise Academy is in one of the most deprived areas of Leicester and caters for pupils aged three to 16. It has a single coherent identity intended to maximise the potential of every pupil, encouraging them to make a positive contribution to society.
Described as 'inspiring', the Academy was shortlisted earlier this year for a national RIBA award of architectural excellence.
With a specialism in business and enterprise, and a curriculum focus on food technology, the Samworth Enterprise Academy incorporates St Christopher's Church, a local parish church. The core principle which underpins the school is the ethos of healthy body, mind and spirit.
High quality in design and construction, the 1,046-pupil Academy is forming the beginnings of a more sustainable community, providing religious facilities, cultural opportunities and new sporting facilities. Much of the Academy is open for use by local residents out of school hours for meetings, events, sports and learning.
The Academy has been designed to be as environmentally sustainable and energy efficient as possible, with water saving measures and substantial roof glazing maximising natural daylight for a light, airy, welcoming atmosphere.
The RIBA EM Awards for Architecture reflect the strong emphasis on regeneration and sustainability championed by the Royal Institute of British Architects East Midlands, which represents 1,000 chartered architects and more than 150 chartered architectural practices across the region.
Says Tony Parr, Regional Chair of RIBA East Midlands: "It's exciting that two significant local projects have been honoured in these top awards. The success of these projects highlights the good design that architects can bring to every type of building project, including inspiring new educational buildings which enable students to realise their true potential."
Jeremy Reckless, Regional Sales Manager with Ibstock Brick, said: "The EM Awards celebrate excellence in design and creativity of architects in the region. The outstanding quality of the projects in support of sustainability and the environment made the decision both exciting and challenging."



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