The new extension to the University of Portsmouth Library creates a highly visible entrance to the library and provides much needed additional accommodation including IT facilities, flexible seminar rooms, study areas and a cafe. Since its opening in 2007 student use of the library has almost doubled.
Bridging over a public path, the building forms a gateway to the park, accessed from a new urban square. This is a welcome addition to a part of the city that lacks good quality external spaces. The main three-storey block is clad in limestone to complement the existing concrete building.
Viewed from the north, dramatic vertical cuts through the stone are highlighted with coloured anodised aluminium reveals. The saw-tooth south facade is softer and provides a sympathetic backdrop to the park. Partly clad in timber, it rises from a dark brick base inspired by the eponymous ravelins (Napoleonic fortifications).
The extension has received a BREEAM rating of Excellent. The building’s orientation, façade treatment and extensive rooflights maximise day-lighting whilst minimising solar gain. The high thermal mass of the exposed concrete interior helps maintain stable temperatures alongside a highly innovative, low cost, mixed-mode ventilation system with heat recovery.
In addition manually openable ventilation panels in the south facing study bays allow users to control their immediate environment.