Lambeth Palace Library, New South London Building News, Wright & Wright Architects, Brick Awards

Lambeth Palace Library, London

28 Feb 2022

Lambeth Palace Library on 2022 RIBA London architecture awards shortlist

Lambeth Palace Library is one of 68 projects shortlisted for the 2022 RIBA London architecture awards:

2022 RIBA London Awards shortlist

23 + 11 November 2021

Design: Wright & Wright Architects

Location: Lambeth, South London, England, UK

Photos: Hufton+Crow

Lambeth Palace Library Building Design

The annex to Lambeth Palace Library was crowned best public building and supreme winner at this year’s Brick Awards.

Lambeth Palace Library London Brick Awards 2021 winner Lambeth Palace Library London Brick Awards 2021 winner

Designed by Wright & Wright Architects, this contemporary building is home to the Church of England’s library and national archive which includes historic documents including the death warrant for Mary, Queen of Scots, signed by Elizabeth I.

Lambeth Palace Library London Brick Awards 2021 winner

The winning design features a nine-storey central tower, crowned by a viewing platform and flanked by four- and five-storey wings all of which are clad in handmade Ibstock bricks.

Lambeth Palace Library London Brick Awards 2021 winner

The annex to Lambeth Palace Library is one of 17 winners in this year’s Brick Awards, which recognise and celebrate the best use of brick in the built environment. The judges for this years’ awards described Wright & Wright’s design as:

Excellent, courageous and rigorous in its use of brick as a primary cladding material for this important building. The choice and detail of the brickwork is integral to the success of the building, in terms of its relationship and dialogue with Lambeth Palace. The careful mixing and batching of three subtly different shades of red brick, combined with the restrained use of textured panels and careful proportions of the openings all soften the unapologetically massive volume and give the whole an understated elegance.”

Lambeth Palace Library London building interior

The new purpose-built Lambeth Palace Library designed by Wright and Wright Architects and constructed by Knight Harwood has reached practical completion. A significant new addition to London’s civic architecture, Lambeth Palace Library is the first new building on the site for 185 years and will host the Church of England’s archive – the most important collection of religious books, manuscripts and archives in Europe, after the Vatican. A period of acclimatisation and phased transfer of the collection will follow, with the official opening anticipated to be in early 2021.

The building is a sensitive yet distinctly modern architectural addition to the site of the Grade I listed Palace.

Lambeth Palace Library Building, South London

Nestling in amongst mature trees at the north end of the garden at Lambeth Palace, the building sits on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Parliament. The location preserves the collection’s historic link to the Palace, while increasing public accessibility to the Library. In the new building the historic collections of Lambeth Palace Library – founded in 1610 and one of the earliest public libraries in the UK – and the records of the Church of England will be brought together, replacing inadequate facilities in a warehouse in Bermondsey, that risked the future of the collection.

The contemporary redbrick building has four and five-storey wings, rising to a nine-storey central tower, crowned by a viewing platform that will be periodically open to the public. The central tower is designed to register on London’s skyline, aligning it with historical architectural commissions by Archbishops of Canterbury over the centuries, and reflecting the national significance of the collection. In tandem, the viewing platform, which has direct sight lines across the Thames to the Palace of Westminster, reinforces the connection between the Church and the State embodied in the collection.

The façade is designed in homage to the neighbouring gate tower of the Tudor Lambeth Palace and blends into the red brick perimeter wall of the Palace gardens, while the design and detailing embody a modern take on Palladian design. The Library’s facilities include a public reading room, a group working area and seminar rooms, plus the upper room and roof terrace, which delivers flexible event space with seating for up to 70 people. In addition, it houses a specialist conservation studio to accommodate up to eight full-time conservators, and office space for up to 30 Library staff. All public spaces and the reading room benefit from carefully attuned natural light and provide curated views across the Palace gardens, which have been designed with landscape architect Dan Pearson Studio.

Lambeth Palace Library London building interior design

The Library layout is designed to minimise the building’s footprint on the grounds and enhance the local ecology of the gardens; the building also acts as a bulwark between the gardens and Lambeth Road, significantly reducing noise and air pollution in the garden, and to accommodate a new and enlarged pond and wetland glade.

By animating and uplifting the public realm at street level, people are instinctively attracted towards the site with glimpses of the Archbishop’s garden and exhibition space visible through the entrance. As the Palace is sited on one of London’s many flood plains, the archive repositories are located above any potential flood risk.

Clare Wright, Partner of Wright & Wright Architects: “It has been a fantastic honour to work on this building, whose purpose resonates so powerfully with its historic site. We are indebted to clients, Declan Kelly and Giles Mandelbrote for their input and guidance, as well as to all in the team. It has truly been an act of collaboration.”

Declan Kelly, Director of Libraries and Archives at Lambeth Palace Library said: “We are really proud of what the team have achieved in creating a building and an environment that will not only protect and preserve our magnificent collections for the future but allow us to make them more accessible than ever before so that they can be explored and enjoyed by all.”

Lambeth Palace Library Building, South London

Oliver Driscoll, Director at Knight Harwood said: “It has been a pleasure to be involved in this scheme and the creation of a very special building. The quality of the design and workmanship ensures that the building interacts appropriately with both the tranquil garden setting within the Palace grounds and the prominent positioning on Lambeth Palace Road.”

The project has been awarded the coveted BREEAM Excellent rating and is an exemplar of how contemporary sustainable architecture can extend the accessibility and use of culturally important historic assets for the benefit of future generations. The project team included engineers Price & Myers and Max Fordham whom Wright & Wright Architects have worked closely with to ensure the safeguarding of the precious collection.

Lambeth Palace Library Building, South London

It is anticipated that the library, which is open to the public and used by researchers from all over the world, and which also attracts visits from religious and political leaders, will be officially opened in 2021.

To read more about the development of the project, you can buy a copy of Special Collections; Wright & Wright Architects’ definitive guide to buildings for special collections:

Lambeth Palace Library London building interior stairs

Lambeth Palace Library London – Building Information

Project Team:

Client: Church Commissioners for England
Architect: Wright & Wright Architects
Landscape Architect: Dan Pearson Studio
Main Contractor: Knight Harwood
Project Manager: Stuart A Johnson Consulting
Structural Engineer: Price & Myers
M&E Engineers: Max Fordham
Acoustics & BREEAM: Max Fordham
Cost Consultants: Fanshawe
Fire Safety Consultant: Menzies Partners
CDM Consultant: Stroma
Planning Consultant: DP9
Façade Engineering: Thornton Tomasetti

Lambeth Palace Library London building interior storage

Church Commissioners for England

The Church Commissioners (Commissioners) exist to support the work and mission of the Church of England today and for future generations, helping it to remain a Christian presence in every community. The Commissioners manage an £8.3bn investment fund in a responsible and ethical way, using the money made from investments to contribute towards the cost of mission projects, dioceses in low-income areas, bishops, cathedrals, and pensions.

The Commissioners’ investment policy is to hold a diversified portfolio of investments across a broad range of asset classes consistent with their ethical guidelines and their Responsible Investment (‘RI’) Framework. The Church Commissioners’ approach to responsible investment is shaped by the ethical policies they have adopted on the recommendation of the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (‘EIAG’) and by their commitment to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (‘PRI’). This approach involves ethical exclusions; incorporation of environmental, social and governance issues; action on climate change risks and opportunities; engagement and voting; and impact monitoring and impact investments. The ambition is to be at the forefront of responsible investment globally.

Wright & Wright Architects

An award-winning practice based in London, Wright & Wright Architects has a particular interest in working with historic buildings and researching the meaning and evolution of sites over time. Its buildings are always a considered response to context, adding to and enriching the historical continuum. Clients include St John’s College, Oxford, the V&A, the Royal College of Art, the National Gallery and Lambeth Palace. Recent projects include a new library for Magdalen College, Oxford, and the Museum of the Home (formerly the Geffrye Museum) in East London.

Knight Harwood

Knight Harwood are a Main Contractor who offer a wealth of construction and engineering experience, combined with a track record of working alongside some of the most discerning Clients and exceptional brands. Our teams are passionate about delivering uncompromising quality through a collaborative and proactive approach. Certainty of delivery and quality is our hallmark and sits at the core of our business ethos and everything we do.

Lambeth Palace Library Building, South London

Wright & Wright

Photographs: Hufton+Crow

Lambeth Palace Library Building imagges / information received from Wright & Wright Architects

Location: Lambeth, south London, England, UK

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