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Illuminating landmark

Historic university set for modern cultural landmark building

by Nete Lindenborg 14 October 2009
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    The University of Aberdeen is the fifth oldest English-language University in the world. Established in 1495, it houses over a quarter of a million books and manuscripts. The new library, set for completion in 2011 and designed by schmidt hammer lassen architects, will service a community of 14,000 students. The 15,500 sq m of floor-space will accommodate 1,200 reading spaces, archives, historical collections and a rare books reading room.

    A new public square is an integral part of the design, linking the university and the city and forming one end of an east-west axis across the university campus. The Academic Square will generate a sense of cohesion between the university and the surrounding non-academic community.

    Sitting on a base of Scottish stone, the library is designed to be welcoming - the ground floor, with lounge and café areas, will host regular exhibitions, seminars and poetry readings. The atrium’s vast spiralling volume, reminiscent of Leeser Architecture's Helix hotel design for Abu Dhabi, connects all eight storeys. With its sweeping contours and organic form, this space, unlike the Helix, contrasts with the clean cut exterior profile.

    The building is designed to minimize long term running costs and energy use. Consisting of an irregular pattern of insulated panels and high performance glazing, the façade will shimmer during the day and glow softly at night, creating a luminous landmark for Aberdeen.

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