JAMstudio visit Sir Duncan Rice Library

Recently a colleague and I were lucky enough to visit the new Sir Duncan Rice library at the University of Aberdeen as part of a tour arranged by Julie Nairn.

Over the past couple of years the building gradually rose up during its construction period to become one of the most recognisable features of Aberdeen’s skyline. With the visually striking glazed facades, tapering branch-like cladding panels, and solid massing, the building has divided opinion locally. Regardless of whether one loves it or hates it (I happen to be in the former category) it is undoubtedly a high quality building and therefore worth a visit from JAMstudio!

I was personally most excited about the atrium which cuts an undulating and twisting form from the ground floor to the very top of the library allowing light to pour through the heart of the building and it doesn’t disappoint. Upon arriving in the double height entry space of the library you are immediately struck by the sight of the free form atrium, which tapers through the building in the same direction that your eye would naturally follow, allowing you to immediately get a sense for the entire building. This openness is an overriding theme of the library and of the combined entry and cafe space in particular.

Siobhan Convery of the university kindly guided us round the building taking the group first up to the top floor to take in the atrium once again and the impressive views across the city. As the tour moved through the building it was noticeable that despite the openness of the spaces, the library remained quiet in the way a library should. Flexible working is encouraged through hot desks which allow for the varied work requirements of the students through the adaptability and multiple uses which they provide.

Other little highlights were the glass lifts which give an unusual view through the workings of the library as you travel in them; the gallery space on the ground floor where the library can display its collections to the public; and the controlled and clean environment of the specialist archive facilities in the basement.

In short, well worth a visit whether you have a soft spot for innovative architecture or not.