UCL SSEES library wins design plaudits

5 December 2007

The library of the UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies (SSEES) has been highly commended in the 2007 Library Design Awards.

Inside the library

The library is part of the department’s premises in Taviton Street and opened in August 2005. It houses one of the leading teaching and research collections in the UK for the study of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. It holds approximately 250,000 printed volumes on site, an extensive archive, a multimedia room and computing facilities for SSEES staff and students. 

The building, which was designed by Short & Associates, features a groundbreaking hybrid environmental strategy: it is naturally ventilated year-round and ‘downdraught cooling’ comes into play during warmer periods via the central lightwell – an extremely energy-efficient method of maintaining comfort within the urban heat island.

Ms Lesley Pitman, the School’s Librarian and Director of Information Services, received the certificate at a ceremony held at the British Library on 4 December 2007. She said: “It is particularly gratifying to receive this recognition from the professional library community. The success of the project was the result of a really productive collaboration over several years between library staff, staff of the school, UCL Estates & Facilities staff and the design team; and we all now delighted with our new library, which we hope will serve the needs of its users for many years to come.”

The library was recognised in the Smaller Buildings category (open to developments of up to 2,000 square metres) of the awards, which are presented by the Society of College, National and University Libraries to the best new or refurbished libraries in national and university institutions. It is the only award in the UK and Ireland to be judged by professional librarians on the basis of the functional design of libraries, rather than purely architectural merit. The standard of entries this year so impressed the judges that the five-yearly competition will be run every three years in the future.

UCL SSEES adds this latest accolade to several architectural prizes won in the past two years: the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Award, the Brick Awards Best Public Building of the Year and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers Environmental Initiative of the Year Award, all in 2006. The same year the building was also shortlisted for The RIBA Sustainability Award & Low Energy Building of the Year.

The new building from Taviton StreetThe central lightwell

Image 1: Inside the library

Image 2: The new SSEES building

Image 3: The cooling central lightwell

Context

UCL SSEES moved to new premises in Taviton Street in October 2005. The school encompasses the four departments of East European Languages & Culture, History, Russian and Social Sciences, and five interdisciplinary research centres as well as a Russian Cinema Research Group and a language unit.

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