Royal College of Art Library


“This building is not afraid to express hierarchy in its internal spaces. It rejects the modular, legible transparency deemed appropriate for contemporary education in favour of solidity and richness. It is a stance which the architect has expressed with a sure hand creating a library which revels in its bewildering complexities and is a positive delight to use.”  Isabel Allen


Situated adjacent to the Royal Albert Hall, the Library at the Royal College of Art required a sensitive response to the brief and the context. Readers are seated at the windows with books located in the depth of the plan, housed in dense oak bookcases to optimise the footprint for reading and storage. The exterior is clad in lead for substance; we were delighted when the celebrated sculptor, Eduardo Paolozzi, was moved to note “It looks just like a casting”.  The restricted site dictated innovative construction techniques: the steel frame was lifted into place, followed by smaller lighter elements and assembled on site. 

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