A Library in St. Andrews

St. Andrews  |   Year Two  |  13 weeks

GIA Award 2015 Commedation


Situated next to the remains of one of the oldest churches in Scotland and the third oldest university in the world, the library responds to the distinctive ecclesiastical and academic atmosphere by combining both into a homogenous and dynamic piece of architecture.


The space revolves around a dramatic, almost sacred skylight in the canter of the library which has been highlighted by a 50mm thick steel ropes that support the central staircase bathed in a carefully studied light.

Both a symbolic and structural element, the spiral stair plays a vital role since its main function is not only to facilitate human movement, but also provide a platform where people can gather.

The library’s identity embodied in the fluid volumes of the stair extends further in the reading and study platforms. They are fixed on four concrete cores with the shape of an open book. The platforms revolve around the light and movement while providing a view of the interior and the exterior. Also, the nature of the spaces changes hierarchically – the higher people go, the quieter it becomes. The busy ground floor dedicated to the social activities transforms into a quiet series of study carrels. The contrasting character is reinforced by the use of materials: timber for the social spaces, steel and concrete for the study areas.

cat power1

internalPerspective looking towards the entry from the main social area.

elevations libraryRight: East and West elevation; Left: South elevation

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